Mary Schweitzer

Research Curator, Paleontology

11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601


  • Ph.D. in Biology, Montana State University, 1995
  • Certificate (Secondary Ed./ Broadfield Science) Montana State University, 1988
  • B.S. in Communicative Disorders, Utah State University, 1977

Research Interests

  • Molecular Paleontology: Preservation and detection of original molecular fragments in well preserved fossil specimens
  • Molecular diagenesis and taphonomy: The examination of exceptionally well preserved fossils-those with soft tissues, color patterns, or original hard-part mineralogy or molecular signals preserved. Why are they preserved that way, and what are the biogeochemical conditions that led to such preservation?
  • Evolution of physiological and reproductive strategies in dinosaurs and their bird descendants. Were dinosaurs warm-blooded, cold-blooded or something in-between?
  • Astrobiology: Can we use the tools of molecular paleontology to detect biomarkers not only in fossils but also in extraterrestrial samples? Did life never evolve on other planets? Did it evolve then go extinct? Or is it thriving now?

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Schweitzer MH, Zheng W, Organ CL, Avci R, Suo Z, Freimark LM, Lebleu VS,. Duncan MB, Vander Heiden MG, Neveu JM, Lane WS, Cottrell JS, Horner JR, Cantley LC, Kalluri R Asara JM. 2008. Endogenous protein preservation in Brachylophosaurus canadensis. In review, Science.
  • Asara, JM, Schweitzer MH, Cantley LC, Cottrell JS. 2008. Response to comment on ‘Protein Sequences from Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex Revealed by Mass Spectrometry’. Science. In press.
  • Schweitzer MH, Avci R., Collier T., Goodwin M. 2008. Microscopic, chemical and molecular methods for examining fossil specimens. Palevol 7:159-184.
  • Organ C.L., Schweitzer M.H., Zheng W., Freimark L.M., Cantley L.C., Asara, J.M. 2008. Molecular phylogenetics of mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 320:499.
  • Asara JM, Schweitzer MH, Phillips MP, Freimark LM, Cantley LC. Protein sequences from mastodon (Mammut americanum) and dinosaur (Tyrannosaurus rex) revealed by mass spectrometry. Science. 316:280-285.
  • Asara J.M., Garavelli J.S., Slatter D.A., Schweitzer M.H., Freimark, L.M., Phillips M., Cantley L.C. 2007b. Interpreting sequences from mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 317:1324-1325.
  • Schweitzer MH, Suo, Z, Avci, R. Asara JM, Allen MA, Teran Arce F. Horner JR. 2007. Analyses of soft tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex suggest the presence of protein. Science 316:277-280.
  • Schweitzer MH, Elsey RM, Dacke CG, Horner JR, Lamm ET. Do Egglaying Crocodilian (Alligator mississippiensis) Archosaurs Form Medullary Bone? Bone 40: 1152–1158 (2007).
  • Suo Z., Avci R., Schweitzer M.H., Deliorman M. 2007. Porphyrin as an ideal biomarker in the search for extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology 7(4): 605-615.
  • Schweitzer MH. The Sauropods. Copeia (in press) (book review).
  • Schweitzer MH, Wittmeyer JL, Horner JR. 2007. Soft tissue and cellular preservation in vertebrate skeletal elements from the Cretaceous to the present. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 274, 183–197.
  • Schweitzer MH, Wittmeyer JL, Horner JR. 2005. Gender-specific reproductive tissue in ratites and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 308:1456-1460.
  • Schweitzer MH, Wittmeyer JL, Horner JR, Toporski JB. 2005. Soft Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 307: 1952-1955.
  • Avci, R., M. Schweitzer, R. D. Boyd, J. Wittmeyer, F. Teran Arce, J. O. Calvo. 2005. Preservation of bone collagen from the late Cretaceous period, studied by immunolocalization and atomic force microscopy. Langmuir 21(8):3584 – 3590.
  • Schweitzer MH, LM Chiappe, AC Garrido, JM Lowenstein, SH Pincus. Molecular preservation in Late Cretaceous sauropod dinosaur eggshells. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 272:775-784.
  • Channing, A, MH Schweitzer, JR Horner, T McEneaney. 2005. Novel preservation of a Pleistocene bird. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 272:905-911.
  • Schweitzer MH. 2003. The future of molecular paleontology. Paleontologica Electronica 5(2).
  • Schweitzer MH, CL Hill, JM Asara, WS Lane, SH PIncus, 2002. Identification of immunoreactive material in mammoth fossils. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 55:696-705.
  • Chin K, DA Eberth, MH Schweitzer, TA Rando, WJ Sloboda, JR Horner. 2003. Remarkable preservation of muscle tissue within a tyrannosaurid coprolite. Palaios, 18: 287-293.
  • Jackson, FD, MH Schweitzer, JG Schmitt. 2002. Dinosaur eggshell study using Scanning Electron Microscopy. Scanning, 24:217-223.
  • Schweitzer MH, and CL Marshall. 2001. A molecular model for the evolution of endothermy in the theropod-bird lineage. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Mol. Devel. Evol.) 291:317-338.
  • Schweitzer MH, FD Jackson, LM Chiappe, JO Calvo, DE Rubilar. 2001. Late Cretaceous avian eggs with embryos from Argentina. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 22(1):191-195.

Fields of Research