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In 2000, Bob Harmon, chief preparator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, discovered a Tyrannosaurus skeleton in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. After a two-year retrieval process, Jack Horner, director of the Museum, gave the femur bone to Schweitzer. Schweitzer was able to retrieve proteins from this femur in 2007.
Schweitzer previously announced similar discoveries in 1993.
Since then, the claim of discovering soft tissues in an ancient fossil has been disputed by some molecular biologists. Later research by Kaye et al. published in PLoS ONE (30 July 2008) challenged the claims that the material found is the soft tissue of Tyrannosaurus. A more recent study (October 2010) published in PLoS ONE contradicts the conclusion of Kaye and supports Schweitzer's original conclusion.
Evidence for the extraction of short segments of ancient DNA from dinosaur fossils has been reported on two separate occasions. The extraction of protein, soft tissue, remnant cells and organelle-like structures from dinosaur fossils has been confirmed. Blood-derived porphyrin proteins have also been discovered in a mid Eocene mosquito fossil.
Schweitzer has also discovered that iron particles may play a part in the preservation of soft tissue over geologic time.
Schweitzer, Mary H.; Cano, R. J.; Horner, J. R. (Sep 7, 1994). "Multiple Lines of Evidence for the Preservation of Collagen and Other Biomolecules in Undemineralized Bone from Tyrannosaurus Rex". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 14: 45A. doi:10.1080/02724634.1994.10011592.
^Armitage, Mark H.; Anderson, Kevin L. (2013-02-13). "Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus". Acta Histochemica. 115 (6): 603-8. doi:10.1016/j.acthis.2013.01.001. PMID23414624.