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Fossilized tendons...what’s the deal?


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Still_human

I’ve always wondered, how do tendons fossilize so commonly, and well? I commonly see fossilized tendons, and it always makes me wonder. They’re pretty soft, definitely no harder than cartilage, and I’m pretty sure as soft as (hard)rubber, so how do they fossilize so perfectly, even as well as bone does, in most cases? Especially since they’re always fossilized in perfectly straight lines, which should only be the case if both ends were still attached to the bones(unless they’re way different than human tendons), cause otherwise they’d scrunch up like snapped elastic, but on top of that, all the fossilized tendons I see are disarticulated, and not attached, or even just WITH their bones at all, as if they could somehow separate, and stay as taught straight lines. It just seems so weird to me that soft tendons fossilize while all other soft tissue is extremely rare to fossilize, but also that they fossilize so well when they do, and the weirdest part to me, unattached, totally away from all bone, while still perfectly taught, in a way that almost seems like it would have to have been away from the bones before fossilization, like separated bones. Can anyone explain to me how it works that way?

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Great question.

I'm not sure who calls them just "tendons"... I collect these things all the time and we call them "ossified tendons".  This is the answer to your question.  They are turned to bone in life.  This happens in some critters, especially hadrosaurs... and turkeys.  Next time you eat a turkey drumstick, notice all the very thin strips of bone in there.  These are ossified tendons.  In a chicken, they are just tendons.  So, in truth, they should be called ossified tendons, not just tendons. 

 

(By the way, the spelling police says that the word taut is different from the past tense of teach... taught .   Here to educate...  : )

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hadrosauridae

Yep, ossified tendons.  All those dinos running around werent tail draggers.  The tendons in the tails would calcify which helped keep the tail up and act as a counterbalance.  

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As other above have said, tendon as a tissue often ossifies in living animals. Your kneecap is actually a chunk of ossified tendon. If you've eaten a turkey drumstick, you've probably noticed the tendons there are hard and splinterlike.....those are ossified tendons as well. The tendons we see in various dinosaurs were similar to that, except much thicker.

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