Dinosaurs had mammalian red blood cells
A Google search reveals little data on the morphology of dinosaurs’ red blood cells, fossilized or unfossilized. The author claims to have found the remains of the red blood cells of a Jurassic dinosaur. The author also claims Jurassic dinosaurs had red blood cells like those of modern mammals. The claim is based on his discovery that red blood cell-like micro-structures in the fossil are anucleate and concave. This discovery contradicts the theory that dinosaurs were cold-blooded.
A dinosaur vertebra fossil (Figure 1) was cut by a technician of the geology department, National Taiwan University. A small piece and a thin section (Figure 2) were obtained.
The small piece was examined and photographed with a scanning electronic microscope (SEM). The thin section was examined with a digital microscope and a transmitted-light microscope. The images were captured with the digital microscope (Ref. 1A) and a camera (Canon model EOS 350D). The photographs are shown in an album at URL: http://www.wretch.cc/album/album.php?id=lin440315&book=12
The photographs show the dinosaur had micro-structures (Fig. SEM3, Fig. SEM4) that closely resemble the red blood cells of modern mammals. These micro-structures do not resemble any cells of non-mammals, such as reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians.
Material and Methods
In 2004, a retired employee of a museum in Yunnan Province, China (ref. 1) found a few pieces of fossils exposed in a badland near a mountain top (Figure 3). He informed the museum and the museum asked me to invest in excavating the site. To convince me, a team of dinosaur experts (ref. 2) took me to the site and showed me the exposed fossils. One dinosaur expert (ref.3) dug up one piece of the exposed fossil (Fig. 1) and gave it to me on the spot. Then I used my bare hands to dig deeper into the same spot and found another piece of fossil. I was convinced that the site contained articulated bones, not just scattered bones. So, I signed an agreement with the museum to jointly excavate the site. The excavation dug up many dinosaur bones, which are now kept in the Tsu Hsiung Museum in Yunnan Province. A dinosaur expert, Dr. Timothy Da-yi Huang (ref. 4) issued me an excavation report. A dinosaur expert, Mr. Yang Foodzing (Ref. 5), identified the fossil as the vertebra of a sauropod of 160 million years ago. He had collected dinosaur fossils for Lufeng Dinosaur Museum for over 20 years. In the summer of 2006, Mr. David J. Varricchio (ref. 6), assistant professor of paleontology at Montana State University, took his graduate student, Mr. Michael J. Knell (ref. 7), to the place 150 meters away from the spot where I found my fossil. They identified that place (claimed to contain another five dinosaurs) as early Jurassic and my site as late Jurassic.
The vertebra fossil (Figure 1)was cut at the base of one of its processes. A small piece (3cm x 1 cm x 0.5 cm) with weathered exterior was obtained and taken directly to the SEM without any biochemical treatment. An SEM technician heated the small piece at 50 degrees Centigrade for ten minutes in an oven and coated the fossil with a thin layer of two-nano ions. As the fossil had experienced 160 million years of weather, its micro-structures on the exterior surface are mostly broken, as seen in the high-magnification SEM micrographs (FIG. SEM1, SEM 2). Below the above-mentioned exterior, a thin section was cut, ground and mounted onto a glass slide. The author used a new type of reflected-light digital microscope (ref. 1A). It can send massive bright white light vertically down into the cavities of the micro-structures, thus reflecting what are at the bottoms of the cavities. It can also measure the images, but its measurements are accurate only when the measured objects are in the right focus. Objects not in the right focus can still show recognizable images, but measuring their sizes do not get accurate numbers.
This article does not focus on the exact size of the dinosaur’s red blood cell-like micro-structures, or the exact preservation conditions of the micro-structures, or the exact species/age of the dinosaur fossil. This article focuses only on (1) the existence or absence of nuclei in the cell-like micro-structures and (2) the shapes of the cell-like micro-structures in the dinosaur vertebra, because the combination of the above two points is a distinguishing characteristic for determining whether an animal is/was a mammal or not. The characteristics is that anucleate and concave cells are found only in mammals. Non-mammalian vertebrates simply have no cells that are both anucleate and concave ( ref. 8, “Cell Size Database” http://www.genomesize.com/cellsize/
and ref. 9, http://biae.clemson.edu/biolab/blood.html)
Mammals’ red blood cells often change from round shape to oblong, or oval or elliptical shapes when passing through capillaries. However, non-mammals (reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians) don’t have any anucleate and concave cells in their bodies. Their red blood cells are nucleate, elliptical and biconvex (ref. 9).
The only criteria the author used is whether the cell-like micro-structures are anucleate and concave.
On a single thin section, dozens of red blood cell-like micro-structures are found to be anucleate and concave
(Figures SEM 3, SEM 4, SEM 5, SEM 6, Fig. 5-1).
Some of them are over 13 microns in diameter
(Fig. SEM 8). As these red blood cell-like micro-structures exist at different heights on the same thick section, they appeared to be of different sizes in the reflected light of the digital microscopes. Those at the same heights have more or less the same size. Living mammals have red blood cells of 2 –13 microns in diameter (ref. 8). The dinosaur fossil had the same type of micro-structures as the mammals’ red blood cells. But some of this Jurassic dinosaur’s red blood cell-like micro-structures measure over 13 microns in diameter (Fig. SEM 8), much larger than any living animal, thus excluding the possibility of the specimen being contaminated. They are abundant and evident in the photos (Fig. 5, Fig. 5-1). In the album the SEM photos (Figures SEM 1, SEM 2, SEM 3, SEM 4, SEM 5, SEM 6) clearly reveal that there is no structure of nuclei in the micro-structures that resemble red blood cells. The micro-structures could not be the ressults of geological formation or human manipulation. The reasons are:
(1) The micrographs show quite a few blood vessel-like objects which are still soft, with brightly red, blue or white colors. Many of them still contain red blood cell-like micro-structures.
(2) Numerous are red blood cell-like micro-structures (Fig. 5) in a tiny spot of a thin section.
They are not only numerous but also concave and about the same size. No geological formation has made objects such as this red artery-like object
(Fig. 6) or this blue vein-like object (Fig. 7).
(3) No one made up any objects mentioned above. The brightly red or blue blood vessels mentioned in (2) retain their brightly red/blue colors at least two months after the thin section was cut from the vertebra. So, they could not be contaminated unknowingly, because such contaminated blood vessels would change their colors in a month after they left animal bodies.
Above all , the author’s results can be easily reproduced, as many dinosaur fossils were preserved in similar conditions as the author’s fossil was preserved.
These specimens were not artificially stained, but natural bright colors (blue, red, straw-yellowish, white/transparent) are vividly shown in some structures that resemble living arteries, veins, and red blood cells.
(Fig. 6, Fig. 7, Fig. 8, Fig. 9, Fig. 11).
None of the orgaincs in the pictures were reworked or moved there artificially.
The author’s results can be easily reproduced by professionals and amateurs alike, because there are many dinosaur fossils that are preserved in the same way as the author’s dinosaur bone was preserved.
The micro-structures ( labeled in the micrographs) of the dinosaur fossil closely resemble those of mammalian red blood cells commonly seen in biology textbooks, and differ categorically from all cells of non-mammals. They were mammalian because they are anucleate and concave, while non-mammalian vertebrates simply do not have such cells in their bodies. There is no exception to the above rule for distinguishing mammals from non-mammals in vertebrates. There is no reason to make an exception for dinosaurs. (That’s the least we can do for their extinction.) There are other methods for classifying mammals and non-mammals. But the author’s method is reasonable and meaningful when a person considers the different roles played by red blood cells, middle ear bones and jaw joints in the vertebrates. Think of that—a gigantic mammal in the Jurassic Period.
1. The museum: Tsu Hsiung Museum, Yunnan Province, China Tel:86-878-3127463
1A. The digital microscope is Dino Lite AM313T5, made by Anmo Co. (www.anmo.com.tw)
2. The experts: Dr. Timothy Dayi Huang
CEO of DinoDragon International Research Foundation
Mr. Yang Foodzing, research technician of Lufeng Dinosaur Museum
Tel: 86-878-4122718 86-878-4130652
3. Mr. Yang of Ref. 2
4. Dr. Huang of Ref. 2
5. Mr. Yang of Ref. 2
6. Dr. Varricchio: Department of Earth Sciences
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173480 Bozeman
7. Mr. Michael J. Knell: M.S. Paleontology
Research Project: Early Jurassic Prosauropod Taphonomy and Regional Stratigraphy of the Lufeng
Basin, Yunnan Province, China
8. See “Cell Size Database” at
9. Dr. Robert V. Blystone at http://biae.clemson.edu/biolab/blood.html
10. Dr. Stephen Britland B.Sc. Ph.D. ILT-M
Reader in Cell Biology
School of Pharmacy
University of Bradford
Bradford BD7 1DP, UK.
Tel. 0044 (0)1274 234695
Fax. 0044 (0)1274 234660
11. Specialist consulted;
Fabian Blank, Ph.D.
Institut für Anatomie
CH-3000 Bern 9