Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Molecular analysis confirms T. rex's evolutionary link to birds

Similar study of protein from ancient collagen shows mastodon link to modern elephants

Putting more meat on the theory that dinosaurs’ closest living relatives are modern-day birds, molecular analysis of a shred of 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex protein – along with that of 21 modern species – confirms that dinosaurs share common ancestry with chickens, ostriches, and to a lesser extent, alligators.

The work, published this week in the journal Science, represents the first use of mo-lecular data to place a non-avian dinosaur in a phylogenetic tree that traces the evolution of species. The scientists also report that similar analysis of 160,000- to 600,000-year-old collagen protein sequences derived from mastodon bone establishes a close phylogenetic relationship between that extinct species and modern elephants.

“These results match predictions made from skeletal anatomy, providing the first molecular evidence for the evolutionary relationships of a non-avian dinosaur,” says co-author Chris Organ, a postdoctoral researcher in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University. “Even though we only had six peptides – just 89 amino acids – from T. rex, we were able to establish these relationships with a relatively high degree of sup-port. With more data, we’d likely see the T. rex branch on the phylogenetic tree between alligators and chickens and ostriches, though we can’t resolve this position with currently available data.”

The current paper builds on work reported in Science last year. In that paper, a team headed by John M. Asara and Lewis C. Cantley, both of Beth Israel Deaconess Medi-cal Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), first captured and sequenced tiny pieces of collagen protein from T. rex. For the current work, Organ and Asara and their colleagues used sophisticated algorithms to compare collagen protein from several dozen species. The goal: placing T. rex on the animal kingdom’s family tree using molecu-lar evidence.

“Most of the collagen sequence was obtained from protein and genome databases but we also needed to sequence some critical organisms, including modern alligator and modern ostrich, by mass spectrometry,” says Asara, director of the mass spectrometry core facility at BIDMC and instructor in pathology at HMS. “We determined that T. rex, in fact, grouped with birds – ostrich and chicken – better than any other organism that we studied. We also show that it groups better with birds than modern reptiles, such as alliga-tors and green anole lizards.”

While scientists have long suspected that birds, and not more basal reptiles, are di-nosaurs’ closest living relatives, for years that hypothesis rested largely on morphological similarities in bird and dinosaur skeletons.

The scraps of dinosaur protein were wrested from a fossil femur discovered in 2003 by John Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in a barren fossil-rich stretch of land that spans Wyoming and Montana. Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State Univer-sity (NCSU) and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences discovered soft-tissue preservation in the T. rex bone in 2005; Asara became involved in analysis of the colla-gen protein because of his expertise in mass spectrometry techniques capable of se-quencing minute amounts of protein from human tumors. While it appears impossible to salvage DNA from the bone, Asara was able to extract precious slivers of protein.

The current work by Organ and Asara suggests that the extracted protein from the fossilized dinosaur tissue is authentic, rather than contamination from a living spe-cies.

“These results support the endogenous origin of the preserved collagen mole-cules,” the researchers write.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Alligator Asara Collagen Evolutionary chicken dinosaur ostrich

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>