“Tests Confirm T. Rex Kinship With Birds”

Just ran across this on the science section of the NY Times web site:

Tests Confirm T. Rex Kinship With Birds

The article, by science writer John Noble Wilford, reports on results from a Harvard study to be reported in the next edition of the journal Science.

In the first analysis of proteins extracted from dinosaur bones, scientists say they have established more firmly than ever that the closest living relatives of the mighty predator Tyrannosaurus rex are modern birds.

The research, being published Friday in the journal Science, yielded the first molecular data confirming the widely held hypothesis of a close dinosaur-bird ancestry, the American scientific team reported. The link was previously suggested by anatomical similarities.

This, if it bears out, it is further evidence supporting the evolutionary relationship between theropodcomparative anatomy. dinosaurs and birds that has been strongly suggested by the evidence from

The anti-dino/bird faction amongst scientists (Martin, Feduccia etc.) will no doubt claim that this is merely yet another example of the many (supposed) convergences between dinosaurs and birds. Creationists will probably deny, deny, deny.

Remember to stay tuned on this though. This is only the popular level report, the peer reviewed material is yet to be seen; and it is only the first such study. More studies, if possible, will be needed to confirm this finding.

They apparently did some similar tests on mastodon bones:

Similar molecular tests on tissues from the extinct mastodon confirmed its close genetic link to the elephant, as had been suspected from skeletal affinities.

Perhaps not terribly surprising, but still interesting nonetheless.