Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dinosaurs Probably Lacked Tissue To Generate Heat

Date:
April 27, 2008
Source:
New York Medical College
Summary:
Scientists have discovered why birds, unlike mammals, lack a tissue that is specialized to generate heat. There is a surprising implication that the same lack of heat-generating tissue may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs.

A team of researchers at New York Medical College has discovered why birds, unlike mammals, lack a tissue that is specialized to generate heat. A new paper contains the surprising implication that the same lack of heat-generating tissue may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs.

Humans, like all mammals, have two kinds of adipose tissue, white fat and brown fat. White fat is used for storing energy-rich fuels, while brown fat generates heat. Hibernating bears have a lot of brown fat, as do human infants, who have much more than adults, relative to their body size. Infants' brown fat protects them from hypothermia.

Clinicians would like to find ways of making adult white fat behave more like brown fat so that we could burn, rather than store, energy.

While most mammals have a key gene called UCP1, which is responsible for the heat-generation function of brown fat, birds do not. The researchers found they could induce a specific type of stem cell in chicken embryos to produce differentiated cells that are structured and behave like brown fat. These chicken cells can even activate a UCP1 gene if presented with one from a mouse.

The ability to produce brown fat evolved in a common ancestor of birds and mammals, but the ability to generate heat was lost in the group that gave rise to birds and lizards after it separated from the mammalian lineage (the researchers found the lizard genome similarly lacks a UCP1 gene). This strongly implies that dinosaurs, which diverged from birds even later than lizards, also lacked brown fat.

The paper, "The brown adipocyte differentiation pathway in birds: an evolutionary road not taken," was written by Stuart A. Newman, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy, Nadejda Mezentseva, a Ph.D. candidate at New York Medical College, and Jaliya Kumaratilake, Ph.D., University of Adelaide, Australia. It was published April 21, 2008 in the online peer-reviewed journal BMC Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York Medical College. "Dinosaurs Probably Lacked Tissue To Generate Heat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171524.htm>.
New York Medical College. (2008, April 27). Dinosaurs Probably Lacked Tissue To Generate Heat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171524.htm
New York Medical College. "Dinosaurs Probably Lacked Tissue To Generate Heat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171524.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins