The biggest problem currently faced by evolutionary paleontologists is how to explain the fact that original soft tissue—which should decay in only thousands of years—still persists in fossils that are supposedly millions of years old. A recent scientific paper was titled “Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival,” which implies some sort of solution to this colossal conundrum. But not only did the authors fail to address the titled topic, the “peer review” process also failed to detect this critical omission and block the study’s publication.
Appearing in the online journal PLoS ONE, the paper was authored by six investigators from various institutions. It did a good job of firmly establishing that the soft tissues the researchers extracted from a T. rex and a hadrosaur were original to the dinosaurs and not contaminants. This part of the study demonstrated good scientific observation and detailed analysis of the partly decayed collagen proteins that were woven into larger molecular ropes called “fibrils.”
However, the paper’s title mentioned “survival” of the fibrils in dinosaur fossils, not just their existence. The proteins are known to decay spontaneously “in well under a million years,” according to the paper.1
The closest that the study authors came to sorting out the problem of long-term protein survival was to note the hypothetical possibility—one that was not experimentally tested—that tiny areas on the fibrils could have adhered to a mineral surface. This might extend the proteins’ survival a little bit on the side of the fibril in contact with the mineral. But it is too far a stretch to claim that the protein on one side could have lasted millions of years while the other side decayed at the regular pace. After all, the distance between the sides is a miniscule 67 nanometers. Such guesswork does not explain how fibrous collagen protein could survive for millions of years—whether adhered to minerals or not adhered….
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