T-Rex Related to Modern Chicken

16 04 2007

The expression “hen’s teeth” will never again seem so benign.

Scientists have managed to extract proteins of collagen 1 from the bones of a 68-million-years-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. It was previously thought the protein in bones had a shelf life of around a million years. By comparison, DNA “survives” less than 100,000 years.

The first results, described in today’s issue of the journal Science, show that the collagen protein in T. rex bone is extraordinarily similar to that of the modern chicken, confirming current thinking that dinosaurs’ nearest cousins are birds.

“Based on the small sample we’ve recovered, chickens may be the closest relatives (to T. rex),” says geneticist John Asara of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, co-leader of a team reporting the discovery of faint traces of chicken-like bone lining preserved inside a dinosaur drumstick.

The organic material found inside those bones and analyzed is not DNA, but researchers say it’s the next-best thing: collagen proteins that were isolated using techniques on the very edge of what’s possible today.

Read more in the Washington Post, Sci-Tech Today, USA Today and other sources at Palentology News.

“Then” and “Now” photos 😀

chicken1.jpg

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2 responses

18 04 2007
Barbara Burns

Wow! … and now every time I see a T-Rex … I’ll be thinking how it must taste just like chicken too 🙂 … no wonder they disappeared off the face of the earth if they tasted like chicken to the dinosaur eater predators! It is hard for me though to visualize chickens having such a large cousin, even if it was so many millennia ago.

20 04 2007
jrotem

“it tastes like chicken” ROFL! Still, I wonder who would have managed to make a meal out of T-Rex.

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