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article imageIt's all in the family: Tyrannosaurus Rex and Gallus domesticus

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     May 2, 2008 in Science
Tyrannosaurus rex looks more like a chicken than like a frog. Genetically, that is. This was confirmed by a group of scientists of Harvard University.
A group of researchers, led by John Asara, has analysed connective tissue protein collagen from a Tyrannosaurs rex and a mastodon. The protein has been thoroughly studied and was compared with collagen of 21 animals of our time. It seems that the T-rex protein is most similar to that of present-day birds, whereas the mastodon collagen is most comparable with African elephants.
On the basis of this comparative research, Asara and his colleagues have created an evolutionary family tree in which Tyrannosaurus rex and mastodon have also received a spot. This type of family trees with extinct animals has been created before, but then only on the basis of external properties. The mastodon happens to be family of the elephant, hardly a surprise, given the similarity of their looks. However, the fact that family of T. rex is currently flying around in the air, is a lot less obvious. The collagen technique can offer a basis for comparison in these cases, on the condition that more collagen can be obtained from fossil bones.
More about Tyrannosaurus rex, Chicken, Frog, Dinosaur, Gallus gallus