Using genetic sequencing, scientists have linked the dinosaur T. rex with birds and the mastadon with modern elephants.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Analysis of Protein from T. rex Bone Confirms Dinosaurs' Link to Birds
News story originally written on April 24, 2008
For a long time, scientists have suspected that birds are dinosaurs' closest living relatives. They came up with this hypothesis based on the shapes found in bird and dinosaur skeletons. Now scientists have discovered more evidence that this is probably true.
The scientists took dinosaur protein samples from a fossil T. rex bone that was discovered in 2003 in Wyoming and Montana. They used the protein to look at the T. rex's genes and learned that T. rex is a relative of chickens and ostriches. They also found that the T. rex groups better with birds than with modern reptiles such as alligators and green anole lizards. This is the first time scientists have used this type of data to place a non-flying dinosaur in the same "tree of life" as birds. This "tree of life" traces the evolution of species in the animal kingdom.
The scientists used the same tests on a mastodon bone and were able to link the mastodon to modern elephants.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Fossils are evidence of ancient life preserved in sedimentary rocks. On Earth, they are clues to what living things, ecosystems, and environments were like in the past. The oldest fossils are from mats...more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. "The data will help give us a better road map to what a future...more
The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core, and makes up about 84 percent of the Earth's volume. The mantle is made up of many distinct portions or...more
Some geologic faults that appear strong and stable, slip and slide like weak faults, causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults in a new way to figure out why. In theory,...more
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more
Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like for each year of a tree's life, which means they can tell us about climates of the past and about...more
Earth's first life form may have developed between the layers of a chunk of mica sitting like a multilayered sandwich in primordial waters, according to a new hypothesis. The mica hypothesis, which was...more