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Article: Chemical preservation of tail feathers from Anchiornis huxleyi, a theropod dinosaur from the Tiaojishan Formation (Upper Jurassic, China)

Palaeontology - Vol. 63 Part 5 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 63
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2020
Page(s): 841 863
Author(s): Aude Cincotta, Thanh Thuy Nguyen Tu, Julien L. Colaux, Guy Terwagne, Sylvie Derenne, Pascal Godefroit, Robert Carleer, Christelle Anquetil, and Johan Yans
Addition Information

How to Cite

CINCOTTA, A., TU, T.T.N., COLAUX, J.L., TERWAGNE, G., DERENNE, S., GODEFROIT, P., CARLEER, R., ANQUETIL, C., YANS, J. 2020. . Palaeontology, 63, 5, 841-863. DOI: /doi/10.1111/pala.12494

Author Information

  • Aude Cincotta - School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences University College Cork Distillery Fields, North Mall Cork T23 N73K Ireland
  • Thanh Thuy Nguyen Tu - CNRS EPHE PSL Sorbonne Universit?? UMR 7619 Metis, 4 place Jussieu 75252 Paris Cedex 05 France
  • Julien L. Colaux - Synthesis, Irradiation & Analysis of Materials (SIAM) Department of Physics University of Namur 61 rue de Bruxelles 5000 Namur Belgium
  • Guy Terwagne - Laboratoire d'Analyses par R??actions Nucl??aires (LARN) Department of Physics University of Namur 61 rue de Bruxelles 5000 Namur Belgium
  • Sylvie Derenne - CNRS EPHE PSL Sorbonne Universit?? UMR 7619 Metis, 4 place Jussieu 75252 Paris Cedex 05 France
  • Pascal Godefroit - Operational Directorate ???Earth & History of Life??? Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences 29 rue Vautier 1000 Brussels Belgium
  • Robert Carleer - Applied & Analytical Chemistry Institute for Material Research University of Hasselt Campus Diepenbeek, Agoralaan Building D 3590 Diepenbeek Belgium
  • Christelle Anquetil - CNRS EPHE PSL Sorbonne Universit?? UMR 7619 Metis, 4 place Jussieu 75252 Paris Cedex 05 France
  • Johan Yans - Institute of Life, Earth & Environment University of Namur 61 rue de Bruxelles 5000 Namur Belgium

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 30 August 2020
  • Manuscript Accepted: 16 April 2020
  • Manuscript Received: 17 October 2018

Funded By

Fonds pour la Formation ?? la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture
Irish Research Council. Grant Number: GOIPD/2018/768

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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Abstract

A panel of geochemical techniques is used here to investigate the taphonomy of fossil feathers preserved in association with the skeleton of the Jurassic theropod Anchiornis huxleyi. Extant feathers were analysed in parallel to test whether the soft tissues morphologically preserved in the fossil also exhibit a high degree of chemical preservation. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) indicate that clays and iron oxide pseudomorphs occur in the surrounding sediment and also reveal the preservation of melanosome???like microbodies in the fossil. Carbon gradient along a depth profile and co???occurrence of carbon and sulphur are shown in the fossil by elastic backscattering (EBS) and particle???induced x???ray emission (PIXE), which are promising techniques for the elemental analysis of fossil soft tissues. The molecular composition of modern and fossil soft tissues was assessed from micro???attenuated total reflectance fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (micro???ATR FTIR), solid???state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (CP???MAS 13C NMR) and pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry in the presence of TMAH (TMAH???Py???GC???MS). Results indicate that the proteinaceous material that comprises the modern feathers is not present in the fossil feathers. The fossil feathers and the embedding sediment exhibit a highly aliphatic character. However, substantial differences exist between these samples, revealing that the organic matter of the fossil feathers is, at least partially, derived from original constituents of the feathers. Our results suggest that, despite the morphological preservation of Anchiornis feathers, original proteins, that is keratin, were probably not preserved in the 160???myr???old feathers.

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