GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 162-42
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


GUILLIAMS, Mark P., LEFAIVE, Samantha J. and SPRAGUE, Michael D., Science and Math Department, Cedarville University, 251 N. Main St., Cedarville, OH 45314,

Since 2005 when Dr. Mary Schweitzer made the first discovery, microstructures with the appearance of “osteocytes” and “blood vessels” have been recovered from fossil dinosaur cortical bone and just recently from cancellous bone. There has been much controversy over the origins of these microstructures, whether they are some type of biofilm or if they are original organic tissue. The goal of this study was to find a simple method for the extraction of these microstructures that could be replicated in almost any lab. Two methods, which required daily changes of the solution, were attempted; the first utilized a 0.5 M solution of EDTA and the second used a 2M solution of HCl (both are accepted methods for demineralization of modern bone). The technique used test tubes containing approximately 5 grams of bone submerged in the given solution; the solution was changed by using pipets to remove the upper solution, which did not contain any released microstructures. The bones used with both methods were from two different localities in North America, One locality was collected in-situ and the other was collected as ‘float’ bone, both localities were Maastrichtian in age. The two techniques resulted in very different outcomes; the EDTA did not demineralize the bone from either site, while the HCl demineralized both types of bones in half a week to a week. The HCl method produced several large microstructures from the in-situ bones and splinters of microstructures from the ‘float’ bones. The microstructures had the appearance of “blood vessels”, and “collagen” and were flexible and elastic when touched. Stains are being pursued to confirm the nature of the microstructures. The HCl solution resulted in consistent discovery of microstructures with every sample and was easy to use and straightforward, while the EDTA still has potential to be used with bones of other preservation styles.