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Using genetic sequencing, scientists have linked the dinosaur T. rex with birds and the mastadon with modern elephants.
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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.

Last modified May 22, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

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