Scientists grow dinosaur snouts on chickens

(Courtesy of John Conway/Yale University)

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — In a move that sounds like it came straight out of “Jurassic Park”, scientists recently transformed chicken beaks into dinosaur-like snouts.

The experiments were carried out by a team of researchers from universities like Yale and Harvard in trying to better understand how dinosaur snouts evolved into the first bird beaks, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Evolution.

“Our goal here was to understand the molecular underpinnings of an important evolutionary transition, not to create a ‘dino-chicken’ simply for the sake of it,” Yale paleontologist Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar said in a statement.

The process of reversing the chicken’s skull features required scientists to analyze related fossils and search for shifts in gene expression, according to Yale University. Researchers said they were able to identify the genes responsible for a chicken’s facial development and block the related protein activity, causing the beak structure to revert.

“The scientists replicated ancestral molecular development to transform chicken embryos in a laboratory into specimens with a snout and palate configuration similar to that of small dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx,” a statement from Yale reads.

The full study can be found online.


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