From the Science paper by Robert F. Service:
The challenges of fieldwork are minor compared with the storm of criticism she’s endured for the central claim of her work: that her team has recovered fragments of proteins from dinosaurs as old as 80 million years. The evidence, which she has laid out in a series of papers in Science and other journals, challenges traditional notions of what a fossil is: a stone replica of the original bone. If that “stone” includes proteins from the living animal, “I don’t know what the definition is anymore,” Schweitzer says. More important, being able to analyze intact dinosaur proteins would transform paleontology into a molecular science, much as ancient DNA research has transformed the study of our human ancestors.
Right. And Jurassic Park will live forever anyway in the summer reruns…
But it might also mean the fall of many heavily invested ideas before retirement or tenure have conveniently set in. Otherwise, why isn’t everyone out looking for tissue (cf Klondike 1897)? On the other hand, gold was highly negotiable in those days…
Service ably summarizes the discussion about the issues around methods and possible contaminants, then quotes,
After the JPR paper, some say they are puzzled by the persistent skepticism. “I don’t get it,” says Johan Lindgren, a dinosaur paleontologist from Lund University in Sweden, who has recently begun collaborating with Schweitzer. “It seems like there is a double standard,” with some researchers ignoring Schweitzer’s multiple lines of evidence while making their own bold claims with less backing. “She’s extremely careful not to overstate what she’s doing.”
Theodor agrees. “I do think cultural factors play into it,” she says, noting that few women hold senior positions in dinosaur paleontology. “I’m not saying the criticisms are off base, but they’re more vitriolic than she deserves.” She says Schweitzer should get enormous credit for pushing researchers to rethink their assumptions. “Even if she turns out to be wrong in some detail, she has stimulated a huge amount of work.” More.
Sooner or later, more such tissues will most likely be found, somewhat like the Neanderthal art bombshell (yeah, um, that explosion you heard in the background was a shoo-in establishmentarian’s thesis… )
Also, kudos to Schweitzer for not assaulting our ears with the all-too-familiar xx whine-whine.
Many of us invested in earplugs when Pussyhats for Science started marchin’, marchin’ earlier this year, wanting equality so long as they can also claim that objectivity is sexist, algebra is racist, and science should be sucked into whatever SJW riot is rolling cars downtown tonight. They are not the answer to anyone’s problems, not even their own. Meanwhile, there is still such a thing as the life of the mind, and it is nice to see some people still going for it.
Service’s article is worth paying for.
See also: Is Mark Armitage’s soft dinosaur tissue work a replication of Mary Schweitzer? If so…?
Is there some reason that paleontologists do NOT want soft dinosaur tissue?
Dinosaur found with preserved skin
Dinosaur found with preserved tail feathers, skin