Analysis of fossil bone organic matrix by transmission electron microscopy


en Comptes Rendus Palevol 10 (5-6) - Pages 357-366

Published on 30 September 2011

This article is a part of the thematic issue Perspectives on vertebrate evolution: Topics and problems

A transmission electron microscope (TEM) study was initiated on samples of geological ages ranging from Devonian to Jurassic to analyse the ultrastructure of the organic matrix in fossil bones that have preserved a histological structure after demineralisation. All samples show a network of variably well-preserved fibrils. Within the sampling, the best results were obtained in two specimens: the scales of the Devonian sarcopterygian tetrapodomorph Eustenopteron foordi, and the humerus of Jurassic dinosaur Lappentosaurus madagascariensis. Despite an extended time difference between both specimens, their fossil bone is composed of a plywood-like structure in which the fibrils are very closely packed. These observations support the hypothesis that dense initial packing of collagen fibrils favours the preservation of the fossil bone.


Collagen, Fossil bone, Vertebrates, TEM, Palaeohistology

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