New approaches to study the preservation of biopolymers in fossil bones
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Tissues of living organisms are usually rapidly degraded after death. Nonetheless, the shape of organisms can sometimes be preserved under specific palaeoconditions. So far, biopolymers have rarely been found to be preserved in fossils. Here we show that not only DNA but also lipids are preserved in 500,000 year-old fossil bones, thus providing information on their biological source. Moreover, we suggest that lipid preservation follows similar mechanisms as DNA preservation, since fatty acids and DNA were found preserved in fossils in a mineral matrix associated form.