Saturday, April 14, 2007

Yes, this is the coolest news story ever.

Speaking of Godzilla and similar creatures (see previous post below)...



From Science Daily: "Their results may change the way people think about fossil preservation and present a new method for studying diseases in which identification of proteins is important, such as cancer."

Science Daily is very calm about these things. This goddamn Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was 68 million years old! Previously, 1 million years was thought to be the absolute upper limit on the survival of any organic material inside fossilized bones. This is HUGE.

And, when the collagen was sequenced, the closest resemblance was to collagen in chickens.

This is chicken:

This is Tyrannosaurus rex:

This provides yet more confirmation for the now widely accepted hypothesis that birds are descended from dinosaurs. The idea was previously based on skeletal evidence and cladistics analysis... because nobody ever fuckin' thought they'd be able to actually sequence the actual organic material from an actual goddamn dinosaur!!!

Do you realize what this might mean? If this T. rex is not just a gargantuan and almost unrepeatable fluke (a sizeable "if"), then science has been handed an incredible new tool for studying evolutionary relationships among long-extinct and existing animals. The cancer thing is nice, too.

Also, another article I read somewhere says that this could lead to some significant shifts in paleontology paradigms, since a fossil has to be damaged in order to find out if organic material is even in there, let alone extract and analyze it. I smell science journal editorials on conundrums of professional ethics.

So, yes, the "tastes like chicken" jokes have been flying thick and fast online and in news publications in the last couple of days. So have the Jurassic Park references (and no, there isn't any DNA in these samples - it's much more delicate than collagen, so get that idea out of your head, my little Frankensteins). I've tried to weed out the chicken jokes for these links:

Seed Magazine/Agence France-Presse

New Scientist


The ScienceBlogs biology "channel" also inevitably has some interesting commentary. And also inevitably, chicken jokes.

Now excuse me while I wet myself again.

Acknowledgements to and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for the images.

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