Anyone who has seen the Jurassic Park movies will shy away in fear of recreating dinosaurs. However, it seems that some scientists haven’t seen the movie franchise as they have proven that some of the physical characteristics of dinosaurs can be copied in chickens. Chickens are, of course, said to be the descendants of dinosaurs and the only group that managed to survive extinction.
The idea that birds, including chickens, evolved from dinosaurs isn’t something that is new, in fact, the idea has been around dating back to the 19th century. This was when scientists found fossils of a bird with the name of Archaeopteryx. The bird had feathers and wings, but it had the features of a dinosaur, and some fossils found more recently also had a similar look.
In Jurassic Park scientists re-created actual dinosaurs, but there is no need to worry about seeing a T-Rex or Velociraptor running around eating people, as they did in the movie, as the only thing scientists have done is to create chickens that have the faces of dinosaurs.
Scientists Give Chickens Snouts Instead Of Beaks
Biologists wanted to find out how birds came to have beaks as it is said that they used to have snouts back in the dinosaur age. The scientists managed to isolate clusters of genes that are related specifically to facial development in birds and came across a way of stopping them in chicken embryos.
To suppress the proteins that would have led to the chickens having beaks beads that were coated in an inhibiting substance were used by the scientists. This ensured that the embryos growing in the eggs had dinosaur-like snouts and palates. The resulting embryos looked very much like the Velociraptor, one of the most vicious, and said to be highly intelligent, of dinosaurs.
The lead author of the study, Bhart-Anjan Bhullar from the Yale University in New Haven said that they had not set out to create a dinosaur chicken; he went on to say that when examining an important evolutionary transformation they wanted to find out about the underlying mechanism. Bhullar went on to say that the beak is the part of the avian skeleton that had most extensively and radically diversified.
He went on to say that while there is diversity, anything from flamingos to pelicans, not much work had been done to work out what a beak actually was. The scientists wanted to find out if the beak was functional, skeletally and when the major transformation had happened, taking it from a vertebrate snout to the unique structure that is found in birds of today.
Snout Adapted Into Beak Around 45 Million Years After Archaeopteryx Dinosaurs
The work of the scientists highlights the fact that beaks develop in a much different way to snouts as they use a different set of genes. This proves that the beak is an adaptation, as opposed to being a nose shape that is slightly different. Michael Benton from the Bristol University in the UK believes that the move from the snout to a beak occurred a long time into the evolution of birds, perhaps 40 to 50 million years after the Archaeopteryx.
While the scientists are not going to hatch the chickens, they do believe that if they did, the chickens would be able to survive, as they didn’t make any modifications that were drastic.