Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Study: Soft tissue in T.rex resembles that of hen

T. rex was no chicken. But scientists say soft tissue recovered from inside the leg bone of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex most closely resembles that of a modern hen. This is the first time dinosaur protein has ever been sequenced. The feat, described in Friday's edition of the journal Science, means that researchers now have a new way to learn how ancient creatures are related to modern animals. The discovery also bolsters the theory that birds descended from dinosaurs, and suggests that a T. rex drumstick might have tasted like chicken. "What we knew, based on bone shape, was that dinosaurs are closely related to birds," said Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University and lead author on one of the Science papers. "The similarity to chicken is definitely what we would expect." The T. rex femur was discovered at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana in 2003, buried deep beneath the surface of a sandstone outcrop. Paleontologists had to break the leg into pieces to get it into the helicopter that was ferrying finds away from the site. Schweitzer was able to isolate soft material from the hollow cavity of the bone. It seemed to contain blood vessels and cells.

No comments: