Polish scientists say fossilised blood vessels with preserved chemical traces of proteins are the oldest in the world. Edward Baran reports.
Polish scientists say they've discovered the world's oldest preserved fossils of blood vessels and fragments of fossilised animal proteins. The discovery was made inside bones that are 240 million years old. At that time southern Poland was partially covered by a warm sea, allowing reptiles such as Nothosauria to live there. The remains of some of these reptiles were found during excavation work by a team of scientists who noticed well-preserved bone structures. SOUNDBITE, Polish, UNIVERSITY OF SILESIA SCIENTIST, PROFESSOR JACEK SZADE, SAYING: "By using various spectroscopic methods we succeeded in acquiring very interesting information about the chemical structure and molecular remnants of blood vessels in these very, very old fossilised bones." Researchers were soon able to show that there was organic matter from prehistoric animals present in the bones. Scientists confirmed the tested samples contained fragments of amino acids which are typical components of collagen. SOUNDBITE, Polish, SCIENTIST AT UNIVERSITY OF SILESIA AND SCIENCE AND HUMAN EVOLUTION PARK IN KRASIEJOW, DR. ANDRZEJ BOCZAROWSKI, SAYING: "Among other proteins, we managed to find collagen, one of the most important proteins in the bodies of animals in general, and in vertebrates in particular." The world's oldest protein fragments of fossilised soft tissue to date were discovered by American scientists, and dated back 80 million years This latest discovery goes back three times further.