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Unfossilized dinosaur bones

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Unfossilized (or unmineralized) dinosaur bones have been found at various locations in Canada and Northern Alaska. Unfossilized or carbonized wood has also been found at various other locations in strata associated with dinosaurs, or even (supposedly) "older" strata. Both the dinosaur and woody materials have been dated by Carbon-14, and the dates obtained are between 9,800 and 50,000 years.


Soft Tissue

Dinosaur soft tissue would only be preserved in specimens (i.e. bones) that were either not mineralized — like ordinary beef or chicken bones, those that are partially mineralized, or those that are mineralized but still retain their original organic material. In other words, in some cases where bones or wood appear to be completely "fossilized", or "mineralized", if the minerals are leached out of the wood or bones, what is left is the original (now demineralized) organic remains. John W. Dawson did this with wood that is said to be over 300 million years old, and what was left behind was a piece of wood that could be flexed or burnt in a fire. See the, "Organic Material Intact" section of a paper called, The "Fossil Forests" of Nova Scotia [1].

Axel Heiberg Fossils

The Axel Heiberg fossils are largely preserved as mummifications. Although usually compressed, the wood and other remains are relatively unaltered chemically and biologically (Obst et al. 1991). Preservation of the fossils is exquisite, including leaf litter, cones, twigs, branches, boles, roots etc. Where these are not compressed, they are virtually indistinguishable from equivalent tissues found in the forest floor of modern conifer forests... The reasons why preservation is exceptional and there is so little mineralization remain obscure...(Goodarzi et al. 1991).

The Rate of Organic Decay

According to older data, DNA isn't suppose to last any longer then 10,000 years. (Shreeve, James, "The Dating Game," Discover, Sept. 1992, p. 78;). Assuming the best conditions, organic material can't last very long, for example collagen. Here is a chart of collagen decay data.

Degrees °C years
20°C 15,000
10°C 180,000
0°C 2.7 million

A 1993 paper published in the journal Nature stated that if water was the sole mechanism of decay, DNA could not last longer then 50,000 years. Also, even without water and oxygen, background radiation would erase the information in the DNA. (Lindahl, T., ‘Instability and decay of the primary structure of DNA’, Nature 362(6422):709–715, 1993)


Additional information

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