Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Science and Technology » T. Rex – It’s What’s For Dinner

T. Rex – It’s What’s For Dinner

Sequencing proteins from a 68 million-year-old leg bone from a T. rex, scientists have learned that what they were actually looking at — was a drumstick!

Comparing sequences of proteins with other animals it was discovered that the closest living relative to the T. rex was practically right under our noses all along, in the refrigerator aisle, and on dinner plates the world over, dressed in a variety of cunning disguises from coconut curry to cacciatore.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the humble chicken.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

This revelation is amazing, amusing, and a little disappointing; rather like pulling back the curtain of the Great and Powerful Oz and finding a pudgy little man from Kansas. Still, this brings an answer to the great philosophical question;

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It would be the egg, laid by an ancestor who was more reptilian than avian.

According to the UK Guardian, study of a 68 million-year-old leg bone of a T. rex, unearthed in 2003 in Montana by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, revealed that it still had collagen fibers which could be analyzed. Collagen is a protein that allows bone to have flexibility and structure.

Scientists at Harvard University's Medical Center used advanced medical technology normally used for analyzing human cancers to study the T. rex bone collagen matrix. Seven different proteins were extracted, sequenced, and compared to other animals living today.

The scientists discovered that T. rex protein make-up is indistinguishable from a modern chicken's. Dr. Angela Milner, the associate keeper of paleontology at the Natural History Museum in London concurs, "This corroborates a huge body of evidence from the fossil records that demonstrates the birds are descended from meat-eating dinosaurs."

So, for all the veggies mad to defend the buttery chickens, think about this. If times were reversed, you would be running for your life from T. rex, who wouldn’t consider you anything but a tasty morsel it needed to survive – and it would dispense with the spicy Vindaloo.

And for those having visions of Jurassic Park, scientists assure that the recreation of living dinosaurs like T. rex remains thankfully in the realm of science fiction. As Dr. Angela Milner noted, "Cloning any organism needs its DNA which carries the instructions to make a copy. DNA is not a protein, it is not a very stable molecule and it has never been recovered from any organism more than 30,000 years old."

Protein sequencing and analysis ushers in a new and exciting chapter in palaeontology, rather than being limited to examining relative sizes and shapes of fossil bones. As computers, software, and medical technology advance, the ability to analyze and learn will increase. The book is far from closed on the mysteries of the past. There are surprises, theories to be overturned, and new things to be discovered.

Judging from another recent article, this one from the BBC, assuming you and T-rex had a confrontation, you wouldn’t have much of a chance escaping one either. In a computer modeled race amongst a predatory dinosaur, a human, an ostrich, and an emu, all bets were on the birds.

According to BBC News, the University of Manchester study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows T. rex had a top running speed of 18 mph. The fastest dinosaur was a small bipedal and carnivorous species. This animal, called Compsognathus, was about the size of a chicken, and could run at 40 mph. The only modern bird to equal this speed is the ostrich.

By comparison, an athlete in a 200 meter sprint can reach a top speed of 27 mph. T. rex’s speed is slightly quicker than the average professional soccer player. This would make the rest of us dinner.

As for the question of ‘What were they chasing after?’ Dr. Bill Sellers says, “We’re now doing some work on Hadrosaurus which is assumed to be one of the things that T. rex would prey upon because there have been fossils found with bite marks on their backs. What we find is that we’re getting really quite high speeds for these animals as well, which makes perfect sense. If you’re a fast predator, you’re probably chasing fast prey that you want to catch.”

About Ashtoreth Valecourt

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    So Jurassic Park was really an attempt at an interactive buffet?

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Mmmmmm…T-rex….mmmmmmm

  • Ashtoreth

    An interactive buffet… You are too funny Mathew. ;)

    Except the buffet would be… us.

    Eating drumsticks will never be the same LOL.

  • bliffle

    I thought evolutionists decided some time ago that the egg was preceded by proto-chicken, thus the egg came before chicken.

    Of course, the godly might make the etymological argument that there can be no chicken egg if there is no chicken, thus the chicken came first. Must have been made by god, then.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Rhetorical questions don’t require answers, Bliffle. In fact, they’ll make you nuts. Have you ever tried to figure out the origin of God?

  • Ashtoreth

    Greetings from San Francisco,all.

    I am typing on this crochity old lap top in a hotel just up from Union Square.

    This lap top is Jurassic! ;)

  • http://www.deviarts.com Ashtoreth

    For any of you coming to San Francisco…

    I was lookig through a local green guide called Greenopia – This is a great reference whether you are a veggie or an omnivore.

    Relevent to this article, I was tickled to find: T-Rex Barbeque (which earned two green leaves). It is located at 1300 10th St. Berkeley 94710 510-527-0099. Greenopia describes it as, “Traditional bbq with a green twist. House smoked, grilled, and cured all-organic, free-range meats. Local organic produce.”