Scientist Aims to Turn Chickens into Dinosaurs
After the extinction of dinosaurs from hundred million years ago, a Canadian paleontologist aims to create live dinosaurs by manipulating chicken embryos.
Hans Larsson, a researcher in macro evolution at McGill University in Montreal, has spent years hunting for the buried remains of prehistoric animals, claimed that he will try to reverse-engineer a dinosaur from a chicken by altering certain key genetic signals known to have evolved since the Cretaceous during the early phases of a chicken embryo's ontogeny.
"We should be able to regenerate or essentially make the genetic program mimic the way it was at say, 150 million years ago, and grow a longer tail, change its plumage to something a little bit more primitive, have three-clawed fingers, some teeth," he said.
The chicken-dinasour project, funded by the Natural sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and National Geographic, will focus on chicken eggs as birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs. The goal is to find out what genes are turning on and off and how cells are moving within the embryo, Larsson explained.
While Larsson expresses confidence that the project could eventually lead to hatching live dinosaur-like creatures, he also acknowledges that there are a lot of practical and ethical hurdles to overcome first. For the time being he says, a dino nursery is simply “too large an enterprise.”
The idea for the project emerged during Larsson's conversation with renowned American paleontologist Jack Horner, who was also the technical advisor for the Jurassic Park films. He recently wrote a book titled "How to Build a Dinosaur," in which he refers to the embryo experiment as part of a quest to create a "chickenosaurus."