Scientists create chickens with dinosaur legs, because why not

scientists create chickens with dinosaur legs because why not chicken
ScienceDaily via Universidad de Chile
Oh how the mighty dinosaurs have fallen. It’s sad that the descendants of the magnificent creatures who once ruled the Earth have stubby wings and are the most commonly consumed meat in America (yes, we’re talking about chickens). Such is the circle of life.

And now, in an attempt to restore a bit of the glory of dinosaurs (or just create a truly bizarre looking animal), scientists have genetically modified chickens to give them dinosaur legs. However, the study notes that the creature didn’t make it far past the embryonic stage.

Interestingly enough, because of the close genetic relationship the modern day chicken shares with the prehistoric giant, the researchers involved with the wacky task simply had to silence a gene that chickens typically express. No gene insertion or further manipulation — just the (highly complex) flip of a switch.

The precise gene suppressed by the Chilean scientists, headed by Joâo Botelho at Universidad de Chile is one called the Indian Hedgehog. This gene is crucial to the development of a chicken’s bones, and when turned off, it apparently allows the birds to develop a bone structure that looks just like the lower leg of a raptor. Chicken on top, dinosaur on the bottom.

This is by no means the first time that Botelho or other scientists have engineered a bird to go back to its more magnificent origins. Botelho also managed to undo the backward-facing perching toe common in birds to produce a front-facing toe — much like what dinosaurs had. And at Yale, a chicken was given a dinosaur-esque snout when its gene expression was altered at the embryo stage.

This sort of work is taking place across the country, and indeed, across the world, says Jack Horner, a famous paleontologist whose expertise was consulted in each and every one of the Jurassic Park films. In his lab at Montana State University, scientists are working to “genetically alter a chicken egg to produce a more prehistoric version of the animal, complete with velociraptor-shaped head, arms, clawed hands, and long tail,” the Post Register reports. But don’t worry, researchers say we won’t be plunged into a real life version of the movies anytime soon.

“The experiments are focused on single traits, to test specific hypotheses,” says Alexander Vargas, who heads the lab in which Botelho works. “Not only do we know a great deal about bird development, but also about the dinosaur-bird transition, which is well-documented by the fossil record. This leads naturally to hypotheses on the evolution of development that can be explored in the lab.”

Just call it scientific curiosity, and enjoy the strange but wonderful results that have come out of it … thus far.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

Tiny animals discovered in Antarctic lake deep beneath the ice

Scientists have made a surprising discovery in Antarctica: the carcasses of tiny animals including crustaceans and a tardigrade were found in a lake that sits deep beneath over half a mile of Antarctic ice.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Emerging Tech

Scientists successfully grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish

Researchers have managed to grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish for the first time, and even to successfully implant them into live mice. The results could be a game-changer for diabetes.
Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot coworkers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.