14 April 2007

Rhode Island Rex


Scientists have finally found a genetic link between dinosaurs and birds. Tiny pieces of protein extracted from a 68-million-year-old dinosaur bone have given scientists the first genetic proof that the Tyrannosaurus rex is a distant cousin to the modern chicken.

"It's the first molecular evidence of this link between birds and dinosaurs," said John Asara, a Harvard Medical School researcher, whose results were published in the journal Science. Scientists have long suspected that birds evolved from dinosaurs based on a study of dinosaur bones, but until recently, no soft tissue had survived to confirm the link.


That changed in 2005 when Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University reported finding soft tissue, including blood vessels and cells, in a T. rex bone dug out of sandstone from the fossil-rich Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Schweitzer, in another study appearing in this week's issue of Science, found that extracts of T. rex bone reacted with antibodies to chicken collagen, further suggesting the presence of birdlike protein in dinosaur bones.


Anonymous said...

If Darwin was right, there are "genetic links" between every evolved form of life on the planet. So why is this news?

beakerkin said...

Hmmmm there may be something to the taste like chicken theory.

jams o donnell said...

Mercifully nobody will be farming T Rex anytime soon so I suppose one will just have to speculate, Beakerkin!

That chicken antibodies react with T Rex collagen is good evidence to support the idea that birds did evolve from dinosaurs. Chicken antibodies would be less likely to react with say amphibian protein because the relationship between birds and amphibians is more distant.

The other remarkable thing is that scientists were able to extract soft tissue in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"Mercifully nobody will be farming T Rex anytime soon..."

I hear that Bernard Matthews is planning a marketing campaign for 'T Rex Twizzlers'.

jams o donnell said...

Get half a dozen groowing and I'm sure that's our school dinners sorted!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

This post made me hungry for T-bone and chicken.

I'm also wondering if this will gravely affect that which we all hold most beloved, the "Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?" jokes.

jams o donnell said...

LOL ewvl, With the T rex input I think it now goes "why did the chicken cross the road? because nobody was foolish enough to stop it"

Steve Bates said...

"Mercifully nobody will be farming T Rex anytime soon..." - jams

What? Michael Crichton got it wrong again? :)


"So why is this news?" - Farmer John

FJ, decades ago, some mathematician (John von Neumann?) proved that one of three things is true of chess: a) there exists an algorithm which White can follow and always win, b) there exists an algorithm which Black can follow and always win, or c) there exist two algorithms, one for each side, which when followed always result in a stalemate. Here's my point: do those generalities render the results of all actual, real-world chess games irrelevant? is chess now not worth playing?

Some of us are very much interested in the particulars of the history of evolution. This is another bit of knowledge... and a significant one... in the working out of that history.

(For the record... I hate playing chess. But the analogy was too good to resist.)

jams o donnell said...

Ithat birds and dinosaurs are directly related confirms what scientists believed. but these things need to be proved!