Monday, June 20, 2005

The Mother Of All Dinosaurs

Earlier this year it was reported that T-rex fossil bones had been recovered that still contained soft tissue. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0813F63C5B0C768EDDAA0894DD404482&incamp=archive:search

Scientists report that 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex discovered in Montana, unlike other dinosaur fossils found so far, has soft tissues, including blood vessels and possibly cells lining them, that have retained some of their original flexibility, elasticity and resilience;


The New York Times reports a further surprising development about the ongoing research. It seems that the T-rex remains are that of a female and that the animal was ovulating at the time of its death. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0F13FB3C5C0C708CDDAF0894DD404482


For the second time in two months, a Tyrannosaurus rex recently excavated in Montana has surprised scientists. Among its rock-hard fossils, the scientists had already isolated soft tissues, including blood vessels and cells lining them - a most improbable discovery after 70 million years.

The same paleontologists may now have topped that. They are reporting today that the same T. rex has yielded unusual bone tissue that shows that the animal was an ovulating female. Until now, distinguishing the sex of dinosaurs has been impossible without well-preserved pelvic bones.

This finding has given scientists further evidence to tie dinosaurs to birds.


Moreover, after careful testing, the scientists determined that the estrogen-derived tissue was similar to substances now present only in living birds that produce eggshells. The discovery team concludes in a report in the journal Science that the finding "solidifies the link between dinosaurs and birds" and "provides an objective means of gender differentiation in dinosaurs."

Though there is still not uniform acceptance of the connection between dinosaurs and birds, this is a significant development for those making that link.

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