Date:

Genome structure of dinosaurs discovered by bird-turtle comparisons

A discovery by scientists at the University of Kent has provided significant insight into the overall genome structure of dinosaurs.

By comparing the genomes of different species, chiefly birds and turtles, the Kent team were able to determine how the overall genome structure (i.e. the chromosomes) of many people’s favourite dinosaur species – like Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus – might have looked through a microscope.

The research was carried out in the laboratory of Professor Darren Griffin, of the University’s School of Biosciences, and is now published in the journal Nature Communications. It involved extrapolating the likely genome structure of a shared common ancestor of birds and turtles that lived around 260 million years ago – 20 million years before the dinosaurs first emerged.

Dr Becky O’Connor, senior postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the Nature Communications paper, then traced how chromosomes changed over evolutionary time from a reptile ancestor to the present day.

- Advertisement -

The team found that, although the individual chromosomes rearranged their genes internally, this did not occur much at all between the chromosomes – what the scientists describe as ‘a significant discovery’.

Birds (which are themselves living dinosaurs) have a lot of chromosomes compared to most other species and that is possibly one of the reasons why they are so diverse. This research suggests that the pattern of chromosomes (karyotype) seen in early emerging dinosaurs and later theropods is similar to that of most birds and, again, may help explain their great diversity.

The new discovery suggests that, had scientists had the opportunity to make a chromosome preparation from a theropod dinosaur, it might have looked very similar to that of a modern-day ostrich, duck or chicken.

One of the key pieces of biotechnology that made it possible was the development of a set of fluorescent probes derived from birds that worked well on the chromosomes of turtles.

The genetics laboratory run by Professor Darren Griffin in Kent’s School of Biosciences carries out research into how genes organise into chromosomes and how that is different between species. The work is a collaboration with Dr Denis Larkin at the Royal Veterinary College in London, Iowa State University, the University of Cambridge, Oxford Genome Technologies and the Natural History Museum, London. The work is a collaboration with Dr Denis Larkin at the Royal Veterinary College in London, Iowa State University, the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge company Cytocell and the Natural History Museum, London.

UNIVERSITY OF KENT

Header Image – This is an Apalone spinifera spiny softshell turtle hatchling. Credit : Nicole Valenzuela

- Advertisement -

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Ring discovery suggests a previously unknown princely family in Southwest Jutland

A ring discovered in Southwest Jutland, Denmark, suggests a previously unknown princely family who had strong connections with the rulers of France.

Submerged evidence of rice cultivation and slavery found in North Carolina

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) are using side-scan sonar and positioning systems to find evidence of rice cultivation and slavery beneath the depths of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers.

Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

A new study of the 2100-year-old Hand of Irulegi has revealed the oldest and longest example of Vasconic script.

Archaeologists excavate the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä

Archaeologists have excavated the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä, a former Nazi barracks occupied by homeless Finns following the end of WW2.

Archaeologists find 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle

A team of archaeologists from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have uncovered a 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle in the Guanyin District of Taoyuan City.

Traces of Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais found at foot of Mount Tabor

During excavations near Beit Keshet in Lower Galilee, Israel, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered traces of a market within the historic Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais.

Traces of marketplace from Viking Age found on Klosterøy

Archaeologists from the University of Stavanger have announced the possible discovery of a Viking Age marketplace on the island of Klosterøy in southwestern Norway.

Fragments of Qin and Han Dynasty bamboo slips found in ancient well

Archaeologists have uncovered over 200 fragments of bamboo slips from the Qin and Han Dynasty during excavations in Changsha, China.