Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by grateful, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. grateful

    grateful Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2009
    Bozeman, MT
    Life after death

    By JESSICA MAYRER Chronicle Staff Writer

    Scientist are flipping genetic switches, making chicken sprout teeth, tails and hands.

    ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE Jack Horner discusses his new book “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever,” Tuesday in his office at the Museum of the Rockies. By awakening prehistoric genes, said Museum of the Rockies curator Jack Horner, scientists are only a few years away from creating a “chickenosaur.”

    “Evolution works. And because it works we can make dino-chickens,” said Horner, who released his eighth book last week, titled, “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction doesn’t have to be Forever.”

    Horner was an adviser for the Jurassic Park movies and served as a model for the film’s lead character, Alan Grant. In addition to overseeing the largest dinosaur collection in the world at the museum, he’s also a Montana State University professor.

    His new book details how evolutionary biology can turn back time. Because chickens are descendants of dinosaurs, researchers can awaken traits dormant for millennia. From the embryo, a “chickenosaur” will be born, he said.

    “Birds are a group of dinosaur,” Horner said from his cluttered office in the basement of the Museum of the Rockies. “It doesn’t really take anything to make a dinosaur out of a chicken.”

    Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have already created chicken with teeth.

    And, in Canada, some chickens are growing digits. Others are sprouting the beginnings of a tail, said Hans Larsson from McGill University.

    “We have chickens with extra fingers,” Larsson said.

    Scales are still a little ways off, he said. The work is done in embryos between 5 and 7 days old. So far, no eggs have been allowed to hatch. It will be at least five years until the dino-chicken is complete, Larsson said.

    Science has had a tough time educating the public about science, Horner said, pointing to a public fear of stem-cell science. And so, his book is largely about introducing how evolution works, in hopes of reducing the fear that can grow from unfamiliarity, he said.

    “This is a good way to teach evolution,” Horner said.

    While the subject raises hackles on some, Horner said the science is indisputable.

    “If God didn’t want us messing with this stuff, we couldn’t do it,” Horner said.

    And by getting people excited about science, more folks will get involved in the pursuit of solving biological puzzles, he said.

    “Genetic engineering has the capacity to solve some major genetic diseases,” Horner said.

    It seems to be working. Horner gets regular fan mail from kids wanting to know how to become a paleontologist. But he sticks to his mission of education, he said.

    “I didn’t get into this business to be a rock-star paleontologist,” Horner said.

    Horner paid for Larsson’s first year of dino-chicken research. As a result of their work, new doors to the past are opening all the time. Living Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, or at least a representation of their prehistoric precursors, could become a reality within the next 100 years, Horner said.

    “It’s better than Jurassic Park,” he said.

    While the science is a long way off, Larsson said pieces of T-Rex could be recreated down the line.

    “If we had the time and funding, we could make a T-Rex looking chicken,” he said. “But it would still be a chicken.”

    “Chickenosaurs” will eat chicken feed and breed chicken babies. And while some may fear dino-chickens wrecking havoc, they pose no threat, Horner said.

    “It’s not going to start chasing dogs around,” Horner said. “You could make a T-Rex that was friendly, too.”

    Horner will talk about his new book tonight at 7 in the Bozeman Public Library.

    Jessica Mayrer can be reached at [email protected]
  2. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    The LAST thing my chooks need is teeth! [​IMG]

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  3. CrazyChickieMama

    CrazyChickieMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2008
    Bolton, NC
    Where did you fond that glove?!?!?!?!?!
  4. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

    Jun 27, 2008
    West Central Ohio
    There was a show on Discovery Channel about something like this relating to dinosaurs and chickens....
  5. Ec_Prokta

    Ec_Prokta Continuum Shift Anomaly

    Jan 14, 2009
    Uhh... No thanks!
  6. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    This guys sounds sort of creepy
  7. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    Quote:Google images: "missing finger". (be afraid of the results... SCARY!)

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