September 25, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Original Dinosaur Egg Pigments Found

Add this to your dinosaur soft tissue collection: eggshell pigment proteins that allowed scientists to tell the eggs were blue.

Eggs of an oviraptorid dinosaur found in China are still blue and red from the original pigment. Bob Yirka reports the find in

The team reports that theirs was the first effort to seriously study color in dinosaur eggs. It came about after the team noted some Heyuannia huangi fossilized eggs that had a bluish tint—researchers had previously assumed the tint was due to mineralization, but the new team thought maybe there was more to it. Prior research had shown that Heyuannia huangi were dinosaurs with parrot-like beaks that walked on hind legs. The team used mass spectrometry and chromatographic separation to take a closer look at the eggs and detected traces of biliverdin and protoporphyrin, pigments commonly found in modern colored bird eggs. The eggs were also dated back to the Late Cretaceous period, which ran from 100 to 66 million years ago.

Credit: PeerJ (2017). DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3706

The soft tissue remnants consist of protoporphyrin (PP) and biliverdin (BV), organic molecules involved in the heme cycle. They are known to provide color and structural strength in birds’ eggs. “Protoporphyrin (PP) and biliverdin (BV) give rise to the enormous diversity in avian egg coloration,” the authors say in their open-access PeerJ paper. These molecules do not result from inorganic processes; “Both pigments are supposed to be synthesized de novo in the shell gland tissue,” they say. The molecules were not from the surroundings: “We identified unmodified, preserved PP and BV eggshell pigments in all three oviraptorid samples and proved that these eggshells were the sole source of pigments by demonstrating the absence of BV and PP in the investigated sample of adjacent sediment.

Did they expect these organic molecules to survive for 100 million years?

In terms of pigment taphonomy [preservation potential], the oldest confirmed record of eggshell PP and BV traces is in subfossil moa eggs from New Zealand (Igic et al., 2009) which demonstrates their preservation potential on a time scale of 103 years, but also the loss of the more labile BV through time due to degradation processes, dissolution and transport via percolating aqueous fluids. Other related biomolecules with a reported fossil record are hemes (Greenwalt et al., 2013), and chlorophylls (Leavitt, 1993). Both have been identified with minimal or no diagenetic alteration from Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil deposits, supporting the possibility of eggshell pigment preservation in fluvial or alluvial oxidative deposits such as those from eastern and southern China.

This find pushes the Darwinian age of PP and BV by four orders of magnitude (thousands of years to tens of millions of Darwin Years). The only reason these authors claim that hemes and chlorophylls have a “possibility” of surviving millions of years is because the evolutionary timeline requires them to. And yet scientific knowledge of what physical processes do to these molecules, PP and BV, strongly indicate that should be long gone:

Since the preserved fossil oviraptor eggshell color suggests originally higher BV concentrations, taphonomy needs to be considered to generate a realistic, native oviraptor egg color reconstruction. Because BV is more reactive and more hydrophilic, and thus soluble in sediment-percolating aqueous fluids, the concentrations of unmodified, preserved pigments after at least 66 million years of sedimentary burial are much more likely to be significantly lowered than those of the more stable, hydrophobic PP (Falk, 1964).

Is it possible that the BV was never leached by water in over 66 million years? It seems incredible. But instead of being astonished that these organic molecules, original to the eggshells, could survive as far back as the alleged age of dinosaurs, the authors pivot and focus on whether eggshell color provides evidence of “convergent evolution” or not. They dwell on comparisons between dinosaur and bird egg-laying patterns, looking for evolutionary clues. That’s all that talks about, too, without providing the readers any hint that finding organic molecules from dinosaurs represents a serious date problem for Darwinists.

The authors expect many more examples to surface. They end by dreaming that finding more of these molecules will help reveal more about evolution:

Our study extends the origin of colored eggs from crown birds to oviraptorid dinosaurs. The result has important implications both for the origin of avian biology and the reproductive biology of theropods dinosaurs. This work also broadens the scope of paleontological research on molecular preservation and ecology to hard vertebrate tissues….

The second aspect of our work focuses on its implications for molecular and soft tissue preservation through deep time. Chemically stable, relatively small biological molecules such as PP and BV appear to be protected from complete degradation over millions of years in carbonate biomineral matrices, in an oxidative sediment milieu. Similar biomolecule preservation may also be present in enamel, dentine and bone mineral. Ancient biomolecules and the soft tissues which they construct pave the way to trace life and its behaviors through time and, thus, invite further studies since they are easily detectable, more abundant than expected, and revolutionary in their ecological implications.

No matter the observation, “deep time” and evolution survive. Those Darwinian concepts are immune from falsifiability. “Cryptic coloration evolved to match the predominant shades of color found in the nesting environment,” they say in the face of this anti-deep-time observation. It evolved. That’s the escape hatch from every problem.

From findings like this, we expect that if paleontologists ever did find a Precambrian rabbit with preserved soft tissue, the response would be twofold: (1) ‘Well, what do you know; soft tissue can survive into the Precambrian after all’ and (2) ‘Well I’ll be darned; rabbits must have had a ghost lineage into the Ediacaran period.’

Darwin skeptics and critics of ‘deep time’ need to collect an overwhelming stack of soft tissue finds along with quotes that such materials could never survive for tens of thousands of years, let alone millions. Then we should plop the whole stack on Ken Miller’s desk like he did on Michael Behe’s table at the Dover trial with his alleged evidence for evolution. Indeed; plop the stack on everyone’s desk in the Darwin Party castle. Even then, it’s doubtful that any of them would repent. Our only hope is to let this powerful evidence speak to young budding scientists who have not yet been brainwashed.




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