Keratin Ain’t Gonna Make It – #365papers – 2017 – 132

#365papers for May 12, 2017

Saitta, Rogers, Brooker, Abbott, Kumar, O’Reilly, Donohoe, Dutta, Summons, and Vinther, 2017, Low fossilization potential for keratin protein revealed by experimental taphonomy: Palaeontology, p. 1-10.

What’s it about?

Keratin is a major protein making up hair and nails. The authors conduct experiments on modern keratin to emulate fossilization to test whether or not keratin is likely to fossilize. Based on these experiments, keratin should not survive the process of fossilization, though calcium phosphate and pigments might.

Why does it matter?

Many recent studies claim to have found ancient keratin, even from dinosaurs. This seems very unlikely. But claims of discovering fossil pigments in order to determine the colors of extinct dinosaurs seems perfectly possible.

Why did I read this?

This is a geochemical and taphonomic problem, both of which interest me.

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