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.
I can’t speak for the first poster but I believe he/she may be thinking of carbon testing which is very innaccurate on samples of recent age but it’s accuracy increases dramatically when applied to samples of great antiquity.
Dinosaur bones and other fossils are dated by several methods of radiometric dating.
Living things, and once living things, up to an age of about 50,000 years, are dated by radiocarbon dating.
Do you have a citation for the radiocarbon date of 3,000 years for a living elephant?
I see you answered my question in another post.
Could you check the Hal Linsey book and see if he cites a source for this information?
I do a lot of radiocarbon dating, and would like to look up the original article.
They have found the missing link between the ape and civilized man.
Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there Jim?
I have basically dropped out of these threads because trying to discuss the science of evolution with a 'The-Bible-is-100%-literally-true-young-earth-creationist" is an excercise in futility.
So read my tagline - its my ' message' to you.
Oh, and if you want to learn about my faith, do take the time to read my homepage.
Rokke, I believe you and I had an entirely pleasant exchange of emails some years ago wherein you educated me about the fact that TWA 800 was in fact not shot down, which I respected immensely and which changed my view of the incident. That is something that you clearly had both the background and the logical reasoning in to demonstrate to my satisfaction.
OTOH, your comment earlier lacked that same kind of logical analysis. I will only second the suggestion of another poster that you read the actual Scientific American (see earlier post) article if you'd like to discuss it. This article has had some very interesting commentary on it on the Dinosaur Mailing List to which I belong (though I am there mostly to learn from the paleontologists who discuss the latest developments in the filed). The link to the Archives of the mailing list is below - you can read the posts without having to join the list - but be forewarned if you do join - discussion of 'Creation Science' is off-limits. Its a serious scientific list, not a forum for verbal donnybrooks like FR. ;>).
Here is the link to the archives of the DML (the past week has seen a LOT of discussion of this article.)
I do agree with you about the MSM spinning things for its ideological purposes. But the fact that the large majority of the TRex proteins identified so far match up to those of a probable 'living dinosaur' ie; a bird, IS significant. The fact that a couple match up to other critters is unremarkable (see my initial sentence above).
Surprise Jim! TRex, Raptors,and other carnivorous theropods DID HAVE HOLLOW BONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No thanks, I'd rather have the two arms and teeth and the run of the area, rather than flitting around pecking at things with a beak, not having any arms and taking off at every noise I hear. Not that I don't love birds. ;)
Yeah, there are some antievolutionists who think Archaeopteryx fossils are faked, especially the feathers. But this is really dumb stuff, even for creationists.
These fossils were not found in anybody's "backyard". They come from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany, which has been quarried extensively because of it's unique economic value (e.g. extremely fine-grained texture, used to be used for lithography).
There are 8 or 9 different Archaeopteryx fossils that would have had to have been "hoaxed". One was found before Darwin published, but only recognized (and the feather impressions noted) years later. Others came out of the ground long after the supposed "hoaxing".
The creationist hoax theory theory, however, does give is the interesting (but hardly unique) circumstance of some antievolutionists claiming that Archaeopteryx is 100% reptile, and nothing to do with birds; while other antievolutionists claim that it is 100% bird and not a reptile at all; both groups agreeing only that it is certainly not transitional between the two.
Really? As I stated at the very start of my very first comment on this thread, I have zero interest in an evolution/creationism debate. No offense, but I am certain I could not care less about what any Freeper thinks regarding evolution or creation. You can scan my entire posting record and note that I have never participated in any of the countless "debates" on this site on that topic. Instead, my comments were directed specifically at what I read in this AP article. Let me offer some highlights here...
"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."
" it "changes the idea that birds and dinosaurs are related from a hypothesis to a theory."
"Three matched chickens, two matched several species including chickens, one matched a protein from a newt and the other from a frog."
So this AP article describes research that looked at seven fragments of protein and determined three matched chickens, two matched "several species" (ducks, whales, naked mole rats?!!?), one matched newts and one matched frogs. Short of them being all living creatures (assumed considering they are studying collagen) that is about as conclusive as grabbing seven items at random from a supermarket, discovering four contain chicken and declaring the supermarket is a chicken ranch. Even the scientist quoted in the article states they don't have enough data to definitively say anything. And this stunning breakthrough has raised the level of their work from hypothesis to theory. Which prompts one of the more ridiculous phrases I've read in a long time..."This allows you to get the chance to say...".
Soooo, I highlight in my first post that this absolute non-conclusion could hardly be more broad. For that comment I am labeled "a mouth breather", called "scarey", and accused of being afraid of scientific research. This, presumably from someone who considers himself well educated in these matters. I respond to that person and you accuse me of not understanding "scientific text" and being an unsafe pilot. And now you are lecturing me on "logical analysis"?!!?
If this thread was the result of someone posting an article from Scientific American, your comments might have some merit. But it isn't. If my comments were a statement for or against evolution or creationism, your comments might have some merit. But they weren't. Instead, your comments, and several others on this thread smack of a defensive knee jerk reaction related to a topic I clearly stated I had no interest in.
I'll read the link you sent me out of personal interest. But my comments regarding THIS article on THIS thread stand as posted.
That is a distortion of the information listed in the article. There were seven samples. Three matched chickens. Two matched "several species" including chickens (and who knows what else). And two matched creatures that couldn't be much different than chickens. Three samples out of seven matched a bird. Two were apparently inconclusive (or completely inclusive) and two certainly did not match a bird. That does not equal "a large majority" for any category. The fact that four out of seven samples were either inconclusive or pointed to something other than a bird cannot be considered insignificant by anyone not striving to support only one conclusion.
Significant is a good word. Idiological......dunno; but
words mean things these MSM writers seem to have forgotten.
You (Rokke) make good points in rebutal, but I think I gotta go along with "unremarkable".
Bear in mind that not only are these apparently short sequences, but this is a fairly unremarkable structural protein. It performs pretty much the same mechanical function in any creature. It's not likely to be as varied and unique from species to species or taxa to taxa as a protein that has a chemical function and/or that has to mesh into some complex biological pathways or functions.
[”TRex, Raptors,and other carnivorous theropods DID HAVE HOLLOW BONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”]
Like the bones of birds? That’s odd, I’ve never heard that before. Or do you mean “hollow” like our own bones, where our long bones, and some others have a center that is filled with marrow?
So is it your contention that the bones of dinosaurs were very close to the bones of birds?
It’s odd that this information hasn’t been more widely circulated.
I find it highly entertaining when someone demonstrates that their faith is so weak that it is threatened by something so innocuous as a West wind instead of an East wind.
Not odd that it hasn't been circulated in 'Creation Science' circles at all, I suppose.
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