Identification of proteinaceous material in the bone of the dinosaur Iguanodon

Connect Tissue Res. 2003;44 Suppl 1:41-6.


This study has directed attention at the search for bone-related proteins in an extract of demineralized rib bone of the 120 mya Iguanodon. The inner compact bone was demineralized and the GuCl extract resolved into 11 fractions using anion exchange chromatography, which all contained silver-reactive proteins with various amino acid profiles. Two specific fractions, iv and xi, revealed characteristics typical of contemporary phosphoproteins and proteoglycans, respectively. Fraction iv, 43-57 kDa, contained a high ratio of aspartate and serine, although no phosphate was discernable. Fraction xi contained a band of 41-47 kDa and was rich in chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronan. In addition an early eluting fraction was immunoreactive with an antibody against osteocalcin. A cancellous bone fraction from the same bone sample was also analyzed using N-terminal sequencing and revealed potential similarities with cystatin. While we do not claim to have identified the presence of intact proteins, this study has value in demonstrating that extruded extracellular matrix is protected by its capacity to induce mineralization, which subsequently is important in conserving detectable protein products in ancient skeletal tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcification, Physiologic / physiology
  • Dinosaurs / physiology*
  • Fossils*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Ribs / chemistry*
  • Ribs / metabolism


  • Proteins