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Dino DNA

Hey gang:

I must concur with Stewart Alcorn's last note on dino DNA. Although
it certainly is an uphill battle to demonstrate that what you have is
real dino DNA, the situation certainly is not as dire as some of the
respondents have made it out to be. I attended the International Conference
on ancient DNA held here last Fall and was present for most of the
relevant talks and know the kind of approaches these guys use to avoid
contamination. In many cases, the labs used for the ancient DNA are
either in different buildings or separated a great deal within buildings from
those labs used to look at modern DNA. Poinar gave a detailed talk on
his procedures to avoid contamination and I, an admitteded sceptic, was
impressed. So let's see what Jack et al. have to say before we wave
his work off as not possible. I have great respect for Jack and his
work (although we certainly disagree on hadrosaur monophyly) and think
he will certainly  address this problem.

I think the T. rex bone happens to be the first bone he's gotten that
seemed good enough to try this on - he didn't pick it for its sexiness
or popularity - at least that's my impression from the rumor mill. I'll,
and I'm sure Tom and others will report from the talk at SVP.

It will be interesting if they have certain critical segments that
nail down the bird similarity.

So until I get back after SVP and GSA the end of October, I'll allow
myself to be titillated some.

Ralph Chapman, Applied Morphometrics Laboratory, NMNH
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560  -   MNHAD002@SIVM.SI.EDU