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    Ringleader's Avatar
    Ringleader Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jul 12, 2012, 11:27 PM
    Dinosaur eggs and Melanosomes
    Howdy,

    I'm an Aerospace Engineering student with a great interest in paleontology and biology. I was hoping someone here might be able to help me out with a question.

    Recently, scientists were able to determine the coloration of the Troodontid, Anchiornis, by examining the fossilized feathers under an electron microscope. The concentration and distribution of the bar and sphere-like melanosomes showed them the specific color of individual feathers, which ranged from red to black.

    This technique is being applied to other specimens to give us some indication of what these animals looked like, however many lack feathers or scales to make such a measurement even possible.

    I remembered that dinosaur nests and egg fossils were discovered as well, and hatched an idea. To me, it makes sense that a fossil egg would shield it's contents in a static, unchanging environment. If so, can someone drill into one and find fossilized scales and feathers to measure melanosome concentration?

    I've done some basic research on them, but I wasn't able to find the information I was looking for, specifically the degree of preservation. Are they usually preserved in such a way that leave feathers and scales largely intact within the shell? Or might some small volumes of the egg's interior, like where the skin of the embryo was, contain chemical compositions indicative of one color or another?

    Please let me know what you think.

    Thanks!

    Ethan
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674
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    #2

    Jul 13, 2012, 03:42 AM
    Good question. Yes, I am aware of the research. It is my understanding though that seeing as they don't know the particular stage an egg was in when left to calcify, it would not be economically feasible to drill every one. The yolk of an egg would tender DNA (speaking of any egg) but not anything else. There would be no feather or skin until developed ready to hatch.

    I know they find dinosaur eggs that have been hatched and can detect small bones, then there are eggs in sites that are complete rock, and if complete rock would not yield information as to feathers or scales.

    So, no I don't believe they have found any fossil newly hatched dinos preserved, or in fact there would be any, owing to the delicacy of the contents, that they would be able to test.

    Your thoughts on my answer are welcome.

    For anyone else reading this post, here is the explanation of melanosomes:

    Melanosome

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jumpogical term, see melanosome (geology). To: navigation, search
    For the geol

    In a biological cell, a melanosome is an organelle containing melanin, the most common light-absorbing pigment found in the animal kingdom.

    Cells that synthesize melanins are called melanocytes, and also the retinal pigment epithelium cells, whereas cells that have merely engulfed the melanosomes are called melanophages

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