Monday, April 16, 2007

Nerd Shit

We're gonna need a bigger fryer.

Tyrannosaurus rex = Gallus domesticus?

Perhaps. This story is fascinating.
US researchers have identified microscopic traces of soft tissue taken from a 68 million-year-old T-rex fossil in a startling discovery that is yielding clues to evolutionary links between dinosaurs and birds, a study released Thursday said.

The tiny protein fragments were extracted from the leg bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex that was discovered in the western state of Montana in 2003, but it wasn't until recently that scientists were able to definitively identify them as traces of prehistoric dinosaur collagen.

The collagen should have degraded millions of years before according to conventional wisdom, but paleontologists at North Carolina State University were fairly confident that what they had was the "barely detectable" remains of dinosaur soft tissue based on their chemical and molecular analyses.

However, they could not definitively say that, so they turned to biochemist John Asara at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical School in Boston to make that determination.

It took Asara a year and a half, but he was finally able to sequence the amino acids in the collagen proteins - a proxy for DNA analysis - and conclude that the T-rex femur did indeed contain traces of collagen, a fibrous protein found in bone.

When the researchers compared those amino acid sequences to those of similar proteins in several contemporary animals, they found that the T-rex sequence had similarities to those of chickens, and to a lesser extent frogs and newts.

That finding bolsters a recent and controversial proposal that birds and dinosaurs are evolutionarily related, and change that hypothesis to a theory, the researchers said.
Sixty-eight million year old soft tissue? Amazing.

I wasn't aware that the dinosaur-bird link was "controversial." I thought it was pretty much accepted as fact. But I'm not a paleontologist, either.

Can you imagine the amount of hot sauce you'd need for Buffalo-style T-rex arms?

I'm sure you all know that the Tyrannosaurus was just about the biggest, baddest dinosaur to wander around in the Cretaceous. But what's the biggest predator that's ever lived on earth? No fair using Google.

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