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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

The concept behind Jurassic Park may not be so far-fetched after all. Researchers recently said that they had found preserved organic protein (which might still have soft tissue inside) in a fossilized dinosaur bone unearthed in China, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

This is a big deal: Paleontologists found collagen (a protein found in all animal bodies that serves as a building block for organisms) preserved in the fossilized bones of a species of dinosaur known as a Lufengosaurus. This particular dinosaur is nearly 200 million years old. Still, if what they believe is inside this particular dinosaur bone is real, it is organic material — which means that there is something for other science teams to study and model. From there, they might be able to replicate the dinosaur DNA inside computer models.

Fossils are formed when an animal's remains turn into minerals. As they decay, they turn into inorganic material. But now, these results show, it's possible that organic material — perhaps even soft tissue — might actually reside inside these fossilized bones. The fact that any organic material, of any sort, was found at all is remarkable.

This doesn't mean we can bring dinosaurs back, the research team cautioned. DNA has a half-life of 500 years or so, and any organism's DNA is completely destroyed within 7 million years after its death. The DNA from the Lufengosaurusm is long gone.

Still, if what they believe is inside this particular dinosaur bone is real, it is organic material — which means that there is something for other science teams to study and model. From there, they might be able to replicate the dinosaur DNA inside computer models.

Meanwhile, a second study, led by famed paleontologist Mary Schweitzer, recently found collagen in a dinosaur bone that's 80 million years old. In previous studies, which some of her colleagues have fiercely debated, Schweitzer has discovered blood cells and soft tissue preserved in dinosaur fossils.

Why this matters: Both studies have led experts to finally acknowledge that soft tissues may, in fact, be preserved for very long periods of times, perhaps hundreds of millions of years.

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Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.