Skip to comments.Dinosaur research backs link to birds
Posted on 04/14/2007 10:18:48 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - Researchers have decoded proteins from a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, the oldest such material ever found. The unprecedented step, once thought impossible, adds new weight to the idea that today's birds are descendants of the mighty dinosaurs.
"The door just opens up to a whole avenue of research that involves anything extinct," said Matthew T. Carrano, curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
While dinosaur bones have long been studied, "it's always been assumed that preservation does not extend to the cellular or molecular level," said Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.
It had been thought that some proteins could last a million years or more, but not to the age of the dinosaurs, she said.
So, when she was able to recover soft tissue from a T. rex bone found in Montana in 2003 she was surprised, Schweitzer said.
And now, researchers led by John M. Asara of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have been able to analyze proteins from that bone.
The genetic code that directs the development of living things is the DNA, but that is more fragile and they didn't find that.
"But proteins are coded from the DNA, they're kind of like first cousins," Schweitzer said
What Asara's team found was collagen, a type of fibrous connective tissue that is a major component of bone. And the closest match in creatures alive today was collagen from chicken bones.
Schweitzer and Asara report their findings in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
"Most people believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but that's all based on the architecture of the bones," said Asara. "This allows you to get the chance to say, 'Wait, they really are related because their sequences are related.' We didn't get enough sequences to definitively say that, but what sequences we got support that idea."
"The fact that we are getting proteins is very, very exciting," said John Horner of Montana State University and the Museum of the Rockies.
And, he added, it "changes the idea that birds and dinosaurs are related from a hypothesis to a theory."
To scientists that's a big deal.
In science, a hypothesis is an idea about something that seems probable, while a theory has been tested and is supported by evidence. Previously, the bird-dinosaur relationship was based on similarities in the shape of bones, now there is solid evidence of a relationship at the molecular level.
Horner, who found the bones studied by Schweitzer and Asara, said this is going to change the way paleontologists go about collecting specimens they will now be looking for the best preserved items, often buried in sand or sandstone sediments.
This summer, he said, his museum is organizing nine different field crews involving more than 100 people to search for fossils in Montana and Mongolia.
Asara explained that he was working on a very refined form of mass spectrometry to help detect peptides fragments of proteins in tumors as part of cancer research.
In refining the technique, he had previously studied proteins from a mastodon, and when he heard of Schweitzer's finding soft tissues in a T. rex bone he decided to see if he could detect proteins there also.
He was able to identify seven different dinosaur proteins from the bone and compared them with proteins from living species. Three matched chickens, two matched several species including chickens, one matched a protein from a newt and the other from a frog.
Co-author Lewis Cantley of Harvard Medical School noted that this work is in its infancy, and when it is improved he expects to be able to isolate more proteins and seek more matches.
"Knowing how evolution occurred and how species evolved is a central question," Cantley said.
The Smithsonian's Carrano, who was not part of the research teams, said the report is an important confirmation of Schweitzer's techniques and shows that "the possibility of preservation is more than we had expected, and we can expect to see more in the future."
Matt Lamanna, a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, called the finding "another piece in the puzzle that shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that dinosaurs are related to birds." Lamanna was not part of the research team.
So, does all this mean that a T. rex would have tasted like chicken? The researchers admit, they don't know.
Both research teams were supported by the National Science Foundation and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. Schweitzer had additional support from NASA and Asara had added support from the Paul F. Glenn Foundation.
If you’re curious dig it up. It’s not likely available on the net, since it was done by a private company (Applied Radiation Co. Later bought out by High Voltage Co.) in about 1960. I was in highschool at the time, but spent considerable time in their lab, and in the cave, after school and on saturdays. Foods sealed in poly wrap and then irradiated would keep for years, still looking fresh, but the same foods just left in the wrap un treated would usually mold out within a few days. I had a deal with them to irradiate our camping rations for our scout troop (it was strictly illegal at the time), so we didn’t need to carry any ice with us.
There is just a huge amount of bacteria and molds on about every suqare inch of the earth, and it works fast.
So, were dinosaur bones so similar to bird bones? It’s clear that these sources say that the bones were hollow, but only one source, the Boston Globe, uses the comparison to birds, and only when speaking about some of the bones.
Are we talking about bird-like hollowness, or man-like hollowness? Our bones are hollow, at least the long bones (and a couple others), and filled with marrow. But they’re not bird-like.
I’ve seen a lot of great Discovery and Science Channel shows about dinosaurs, and none of them compared the hollowness of dinosaur’s bones to birds bones.
Am I really missing such an interesting similarity? I’ve seen documentaries that compare dinos to birds, and never heard this claim before.
[”What was the name of the charm school that gave you your degree?”]
[”You are obviously a summa cum laude graduate of the ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ academy.”]
Well, let’s see, Al Simmons. Maybe we should try to be more charming by following your example?
Here are some of your endearing quotes from this thread:
“Perhaps you need to re-check your eyeglasses prescription? Or attend a remedial reading course?”
Lovely, Al Simmons. Win any friends with that one? Well this jewel must have charmed them:
“If this quote is representative of your overall ability to understand scientific text, I thank God you’ll never be piloting any plane I’m gonna be in....”
Or, how about this?
“Not odd that it hasn’t been circulated in ‘Creation Science’ circles at all, I suppose.”
You have nothing to teach about charm or winning friends. You are rude, condescending and close-minded.
And you are a hypocrite.
What do you think the primary component is of insects preserved in amber?
I suspect that the amber must have some anti-microbial properties, in addition to excluding the atmosphere from the equation.
Additionally, insects are much easier to preserve due to their exterior skeletal nature.
What do you think an insect's skeleton is made of?
But answer my question. How does protein decompose in the absence of moisture, light and air? Show me your research.
All those tired of hearing grandiose statements that "Dinos evolved into birds", please flush now! Wow! Tidal wave!
Bob Bakker must be pleased to get some confirmation of his BADD theory.
Whats odd is that you are the only person who has this information. Last I checked, dinosaur bones are just as solid as our own bones, and this includes the therapods.
It it the microvascularization found in these bones that leads to the conclusion that they are related to birds, not hollowness.
Last year examination of this very same fossil revealed layers of bone morphologically identical to ostrich medullary bone. Avian medullary bone is a specific feature unique to birds, used by females for rapid storage of calcium prior to egg laying. Medullary bone of this type has not been found in any other type of animal until this point. This provides another piece of evidence suggesting an evolutionary link between birds and the theropod dinosaurs.
An insect’s shell contains silicates that make it harder than the blood proteins that were in the bone.
Your assumption of absence of moisture or air are absurd. If you’re going to try to say that any part of the bone was fossilized, moisture and it’s accompaning air have to b e present. Ask your evo pals, and I’m sure that they will straighten you out on that.
Proteins are known to survive up to ten million years. This latest find was unexpected, but the conditions of fossilization are unusual.
I'm going to ask again for your documentation that this is impossible, rather than unusual.
You’re making a fool of yourself.
The bones are hollow, but to claim that hollow bones (and only hollow bones) makes it an avian is an unsupported conclusion (such as the Boston Globe seems to do). Hasn't the
creationist intelligent design crowd always complained that science jumps to unsupported conclusions?
But if something has hollow bones, a wishbone, and feathers, and lays eggs, what would you call it?
... And now they've found proteins matching chickens, ... Jim, it's a pretty safe bet that Tyrannosaurus rex (& friends) are related to birds.
Are we talking about bird-like hollowness, or man-like hollowness? Our bones are hollow, at least the long bones (and a couple others), and filled with marrow. But theyre not bird-like.
So how are they different?
(Never mind that was a rhetorical question,...)
Like most of the 5000 species of living mammals, human bone has thick relatively homogeneous walls and are filled with marrow, as you state.
Birds have thin laminar walls and are air-filled.
The bones of T. rex are like the bird pattern, --so much alike that they can determine the sex of the specimen.
Ive seen a lot of great Discovery and Science Channel shows about dinosaurs, and none of them compared the hollowness of dinosaurs bones to birds bones.
Maybe they aren't willing to get out onto thin ice ... and just because you haven't seen E. coli doesn't mean it's not there.
--or that you won't get sick from eating contaminated hamburger.
Am I really missing such an interesting similarity?
... Ive seen documentaries that compare dinos to birds, and never heard this claim before.
I thought you said you haven't seen it before?
... no matter, I think you're going to see more of them now.
You use the word identicle, yet the science reports I see say ‘similiar’ not identicle.
As well, this goes offtopic (not that it isn’;t slightly important) from the main issue of how old the bone is- to which the scientific comunity has to make a cop-out statement that there ‘must have been a fairly remarkable preservation system inplace in Montana’ and that geochemical and environmental factors that could have preserved the tissues are as yet undetermined, Boy howdy I’ll say!
protiens “matching” chickens?
” The sequence similarity between the T. rex and the chicken was 58%, while it was only 51% similar to both frogs and newts. This compares with a reported 81% similarity between humans and frogs, and 97% between humans and cows.”
“Moreover, while some of the peptide fragments showed sequence matches to chickens, others matched frog, or newt, or even fish and mice. The authors did point out that not all organisms are in the database. Although the chicken was the closest match from the database, it is possible that animals not included could be a closer match. “
We ‘match’ Banana DNA too- but I dunno bout you, but I don’t think we’re all bananas lol
Good, well reasoned answer to a specific question.
Perhaps you should limit your postings to prayer threads, where you can tell people their loved ones' illnesses are due to moral lapses, and that medicine is useless.
Beware of creationist websites; They'll rot your brain.
yeah- especially when they expose facts that contradict evolution- good response
Can you do better than that? I don't know, may cite the specific instance? (I don't happen to have Mr. Linsay's telephone number off hand) I should warn you that I think your elephant anecdote is almost certainly bogus.
... and Art Bell is a trusted investigative journalist.
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