Not signed in (Sign In)
  1.  (2031.1)
    A new study of ancient proteins retrieved from a Tyranosaurus rex fossil confirms the long-hypothesized evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and modern birds, experts say.

    The finding is the first molecular evidence that birds, not lizards or other reptiles, are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, the researchers note.

    A close relationship between the two groups was already widely suspected, based on similarities in skeletal features.

    The new research follows a breakthrough study last year in which scientists reported the recovery and partial molecular sequencing of T. rex and mastodon proteins.

    Both dinosaur studies examined samples of collagen, the main protein component of bone.

    In addition to cementing the dino-bird connection, the new study provides the first molecular evidence that mastodons and elephants are also closely related.

    "This shows that if we can sequence even tiny pieces of fossil protein, we can establish evolutionary relationships," said co-author John Asara of Harvard Medical School, who also led the previous T. rex study....

    ...Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University is a co-author of the new study and made the initial discovery of the T. rex soft tissue remains.

    She has argued that such remains may be relatively common in well-preserved fossils but are often overlooked.

    Others have said that protein preservation over tens of millions of years should not be possible. Some scientists have continued to question whether Asara's and Schweitzer's sequences really came from an ancient T. rex.

    Proteins from some other biological source could have somehow contaminated the dinosaur remains, the skeptics note.

    The new finding that the proteins are most similar to those of birds, Asara said, helps rule out the possibility of contamination from other sources such as mammals.

    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2008
    The protein contamination issue is significant, I'd say (granted, I'm only an armchair paleontologist at best; really more of an oversized Dinosaur Kid), but if it happens to be true, that'd be great to finally have something resembling proof.

    Now all they'd need to do is figure out if T. rex was descended from carnosaurs, like they'd always thought, or coelurosaurs, like they're thinking now.

    Christ, I'm a dork.
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2008
    Anyone looking at Jane should be able to see the obvious.
  2.  (2031.4)
    oh god. Imagine all the meat on a 'rex leg. It would be the BEST thanksgiving dinner EVER.
  3.  (2031.5)
    @Rootfireember didn't get your sandwich, did you?
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2008

    Now the question is: do theropods taste like chicken because they're related to birds, or because dinomeat is a weird food?
  4.  (2031.7)
    @spiraltwist Actually I did. And I have scarfed most of it down. But I'm still hungry. And Therapod megafauna Leg would be like. GNOMGNOM awesome. But man. I'd need a really big oven/grill thing for it. The dinosaur/bird link hasn't really been contested with any seriousness for at least 8 years, at least among the old guard paleontologists. It's rather like arguing that cardboard and paper aren't related products; but pop science likes it's so called 'long running' debates.
    It still makes me want to spend the summer digging.
  5.  (2031.8)
    The dinosaur/bird link hasn't really been contested with any seriousness for at least 8 years, at least among the old guard paleontologists.

    True. I was interested in the molecular aspects of the testing, and the samples themselves.
  6.  (2031.9)
    @Spiraltwist I want a pet dinosaur, after I get a cloned Thycolane. And I think I spelled that wrong but my spellchecker is no help on esoteric species names! DRAT.

    I wonder if they could use the DNA to figure out the gender of the animal they took it from, as gender studies and sexual dimorphism among the therapods is still considered a bit tetchy.