Article: Preservation of avian collagen in Australian Quaternary cave deposits
The small well-preserved bones of ten avian fossils, species of the quail Turnix, from five Australian caves, ranging in age from 9000 to 38,000 years, were tested in a radioimmunoassay for collagen. Collagen was well preserved in all cave environments studied, whether 'wet' or 'dry', and nine of ten samples tested contained collagen, from 10% to 92% of the collagen content of fresh bone. The age of the bone was not clearly related to its collagen content, although the amount of collagen detected was significantly less in the older of the two samples for three of the five caves. The moisture content of the cave was not shown to affect the preservation of collagen. This study suggests that caves may provide a favourable environment for the preservation of collagen where fossils are physically well preserved.