Journal of Protein Chemistry

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 75–90 | Cite as

Proteins in the fossil bone of the dinosaur, seismosaurus

  • L. R. Gurley
  • J. G. Valdez
  • W. D. Spall
  • B. F. Smith
  • D. D. Gillette


Proteins have been successfully extracted from the fossil vertebra of a 150-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur (“Seismosaurus”) recently excavated from the Morrison Formation of New Mexico. HCl and guanidine·HCl extracts of the fossil bone and its sandstone matrix were concentrated, demineralized, and resolved into a number of different protein fractions by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). One of these fractions had the same retention time as collagen. Amino acid analysis (Pico-Tag method) of these fractions confirmed they were proteins. Comparison of the correlation coefficients of the amino acid analyses with that of collagen standards indicated that none of the fractions contained significant amounts of collagen. Similar HPLC profiles were obtained for the HCl extracts of fossil bone and its sandstone matrix suggesting they contained the same proteins. However, different HPLC profiles were obtained when these HCl extracts were dried and reextracted with guanidine·HCl. These different fractions represent proteins unique to the fossil and were not found in the sandstone matrix. These differences were confirmed by amino acid analysis. Such information on fossil bone proteins might provide useful knowledge concerning the evolution of skeletal molecules and the fossilization process. Similar information on the proteins from the geological matrix might provide useful fingerprints for reconstructing ancient environments and for assessing sedimentary rocks for fossil fuel exploration.

Key words

Fossil proteins dinosaur proteins Seismosaurus biomarkers, fossil collagen fossil amino acids 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. R. Gurley
    • 1
  • J. G. Valdez
    • 1
  • W. D. Spall
    • 2
  • B. F. Smith
    • 2
  • D. D. Gillette
    • 3
  1. 1.Life Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos
  2. 2.Chemical and Laser Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos
  3. 3.Southwest paleontology Foundation, Inc.Albuquerque

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