Wednesday, March 30, 2005

"Soft tissue"

On the radio the other day I listened to a maddening and worse than pointless hour about the T-rex "soft tissue" that "just might" enable genetic reconstitution of a dinosaur ala "Jurassic Park." As NPR's interviewer eventually sort of began to grasp, we don't know that what's been found is made of dinosaur, and people are gliding past this all-important point from every direction on the slipperiness of the phrase "soft tissue."

In anatomy, "soft tissue" usually means "not bone," and since nearly every vertebrate fossil ever identified as such derives from bone, it's perfectly apt that the finders of this stuff are invoking "soft tissue." But fossilized bone is not bone, and a fossilized "soft tissue" would not be soft tissue. Even if those microscopic T-rex "vessels" do stretch, they wouldn't be the first floppy fossils found, at least not according to this news story in Science magazine.

So soft as that T-rex tissue may be, there's no telling what it's made of, and since not even bone lasts 70 million years (far as we know), it's unlikely that what fell from that fossil femur is the actual stuff of dinosaurs.

1 comment:

Yosh said...

i respect your conservative view on this but good lord I hope you're wrong! I guess only time will tell huh?