Today’s DpSU is more soft tissue stuff: Over 100 Frozen Original Mammoth Proteins Found. The age for this lot is 43,000 years, much younger than usual for a B.T. article on the subject.
Why can’t these proteins be that old, according to Mr Thomas? Because the models say no:
Decay rate studies have clearly shown that proteins disintegrate after only a few thousand years. For example, one study by ancient protein expert Jeffrey Bada compared the collagen protein inside modern seashells with fossil seashells deposited during the Ice Age. It showed, based on an assumed 10,000-year-ago Ice Age, that collagen cannot last longer than 30,000 years.
I get the impression that we know a lot more about this kind of thing now than we did in 1999 when this study was done. And the environment he would have tested was completely different to the one in which the Mammoths were preserved – freezing does wonders for preservation.
Similarly, a 1959 study estimated protein decay rates by comparing the amount of water that ancient proteins of known age were still able to absorb with amounts that fresh protein could absorb. It also showed a shelf-life for protein of only a handful of millennia.
We certainly know more than we did in 1959. Did they even know what they were then?
So, scientists know full well that collagen protein should no longer exist in any sample that is 43,000 years old. And the problem is even more severe for other, less resistant proteins. For example, while collagen doesn’t dissolve in water, albumin does. And water dramatically accelerates the decay of biomolecules, causing “hydrolytic” and “oxidative” damage.
The researchers reporting on the mammoth proteins wrote, “Strong evidence was observed of amino acid modifications due to post-mortem hydrolytic and oxidative damage.” In other words, they captured these proteins in just the state of decay that one would expect to find them in if they were only about 4,000 years old, a figure consistent with the biblical record of early earth history.
How does he know that it is ‘just’ the right state of decay? Could it not have ‘just’ been the case of those old models being a little out? His thesis was weak enough as it was…