Birds and dinosaurs, collagen, and Huxley.

I have already blogged about this topic in a short post [Yet another link between dinosaurs and birds], so I will just point out the existence of another paper along these lines using phylogenetic analyses of collagen amino acid sequences recovered from T. rex fossils to demonstrate a close affinity between theropod dinosaurs and birds (Organ et al. 2008), a link first proposed by T.H. Huxley in 1868. This newest analysis was led by Chris Organ, who also did the dinosaur cell/genome size estimation study (Organ et al. 2007; Zimmer 2007). They also looked at mastodons. The data from mastodons and dinosaur aren’t new (Asara et al. 2007; Schweitzer et al. 2007) — the main update is the inclusion extant species and of a phylogenetic component.

There are plenty of news stories about it, including the following.

Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex’s Evolutionary Link To Birds (ScienceDaily)

From T. Rex to Chicken: The Dino-Bird Connection(Discovery News)

T. rex confirmed as great granddaddy of all birds (New Scientist)

Phylogenetic Tree: Dinosaurs, Alligators And … Ostriches? (Scientific Blogging)

Gunk in T. Rex Fossil Confirms Dino-Bird Lineage (LiveScience)

Finally, a reminder about how species names should be listed.


Asara, J.M., M.H. Schweitzer, L.M. Freimark, M. Phillips, and L.C. Cantley. 2007. Protein sequences from mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex revealed by mass spectrometry. Science 316: 280-285.

Huxley, T.H. 1868. On the animals which are most nearly intermediate between birds and the reptiles. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 4, 2: 66-75.

Organ, C.L., A.M. Shedlock, A. Meade, M. Pagel, and S.V. Edwards. 2007. Origin of avian genome size and structure in non-avian dinosaurs. Nature 446: 180-184.

Organ, C.L., M.H. Schweitzer, W. Zheng, L.M. Freimark, L.C. Cantley, and J.M. Asara. 2008. Molecular phylogenetics of mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 320: 499.

Schweitzer, M.H., Z. Suo, R. Avci, J.M. Asara, M.A. Allen, F.T. Arce, and J.R. Horner. 2007. Analyses of soft tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex suggest the presence of protein. Science 316: 277-280.

Zimmer, C. 2007. Jurassic genome. Science 315: 1358-1359.

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