Friday, April 25, 2008

New Conclusions from Impossible 2005 Dino Find

In 2005, paleontologist Mary Schweitzer discovered the impossible: the soft tissue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Three years ago, the NY Times reported the tissue was so in tact that it included "blood vessels and possibly cells." At the time, experts found the blood vessels were "virtually indistinguishable" from those of modern ostriches.

Now, molecular analysis of the tissue shows a "very high probability" that the T Rex " is more similar to birds than to alligators or other reptiles." The analysis, by a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School team, reinforces our understanding of evolution, which was previously based on studying bone and other physical structures.

The research team using an "improved argon-argon dating method" also confirmed that wooly mammoths are "clearly a close relative of elephants." It seems like a no-brainer. But dinosaurs were supposed to be more like iguanas than pelicans, right? Researchers used DNA recovered from the preserved hair of a mastodon that died 50,000 years ago.

Another interesting find: the team's research pushes back the extinction of dinosaurs about 450,000 years (from 65.5 to 65.95 million years). Their analysis has about a 40,000 year margin of error.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.