Brevia

Molecular Phylogenetics of Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex

Science  25 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5875, pp. 499
DOI: 10.1126/science.1154284

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Abstract

We report a molecular phylogeny for a nonavian dinosaur, extending our knowledge of trait evolution within nonavian dinosaurs into the macromolecular level of biological organization. Fragments of collagen α1(I) and α2(I) proteins extracted from fossil bones of Tyrannosaurus rex and Mammut americanum (mastodon) were analyzed with a variety of phylogenetic methods. Despite missing sequence data, the mastodon groups with elephant and the T. rex groups with birds, consistent with predictions based on genetic and morphological data for mastodon and on morphological data for T. rex. Our findings suggest that molecular data from long-extinct organisms may have the potential for resolving relationships at critical areas in the vertebrate evolutionary tree that have, so far, been phylogenetically intractable.

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