They looked, as one researcher said, like “rubbish,” eight seemingly inconsequential Cretaceous Period dinosaur fossils that sat in a London museum’s collection for more than a century after being found in Canada’s Alberta province.

But a fresh examination revealed the 75 million-year-old fossils to be quite remarkable, boasting microscopic structures that appear to be red blood cells containing nuclei as well as rope-like collagen fibers, scientists said on Tuesday.

It is extraordinarily rare for such ancient soft-tissue structures to be preserved as fossils, and some of the few similar discoveries in the past have been greeted with doubt.

It is even more surprising considering these fragmentary fossils, from a number of different dinosaurs, are not especially well preserved like the earlier ones that harbored soft-tissue remains, the researchers said.

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