A group of researchers at the University of Kent believe they have recreated dinosaur DNA, shedding light on what the ancient reptiles may have looked like. This new discovery is an exciting breakthrough that could help shed light on why dinosaurs came in many various shapes and sizes. In addition, it could also show how the gigantic beasts managed to dominate Earth for almost 200 million years.
To begin their study, the team first turned to current studies that state dinosaurs varied greatly in appearance because they had a huge number of different chromosomes.
“We think it generates variation,” said study co-author Darren Griffin, a researcher at the University of Kent, according to Daily Star. “Having a lot of chromosomes enables dinosaurs to shuffle their genes around much more than other types of animals. This shuffling means that dinosaurs can evolve more quickly and so help them survive so long as the planet changed.”
From there, researchers replicated the ancient DNA by studying the DNA in dinosaurs’ closest living relatives: turtles and birds.
That information, combined against fossil evidence, revealed that birds and dinosaurs are not distant relatives as so many people believe. Rather, they are the same thing.
“The fossil evidence and now our evidence reinforces the idea that rather than birds and dinosaurs being distant relatives, they are one in the same,” said lead author Rebecca O’Connor, a researcher from the University of Kent, according to BBC News. “The birds around us today are dinosaurs.”
This finding completely changes the way scientists look at dinosaurs and could alter future studies into the ancient reptiles.
The study is published in Nature Communications.