CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 26 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said genetic sequencing of a Tyrannosaurus rex protein shows a common ancestry with chickens, ostriches and alligators.
The matching of the protein -- taken from a T. rex femur found in 2003 in an area between Wyoming and Montana -- represents the first use of molecular data to place a non-avian dinosaur in a phylogenetic tree, the National Science Foundation said Friday in a release.
The findings are published in the journal Science.
"These results match predictions made from skeletal anatomy, providing the first molecular evidence for the evolutionary relationships of a non-avian dinosaur," co-author Chris Organ, a researcher at Harvard University, said in a statement. "Even though we only had six peptides -- just 89 amino acids -- from T. rex, we were able to establish these relationships."
The current paper builds on work by a team headed by John Asara and Lewis Cantley of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.
"We determined that T. rex, in fact, grouped with birds -- ostrich and chicken -- better than any other organism that we studied," Asara said. "We also showed that it groups better with birds than modern reptiles, such as alligators and green anole lizards."