Dinosaurs can probably walk among us in real life soon, because the paleontologist and the inspiration of the original movie Jurassic Park, announced one research project, to bring these extinct creatures back to life. The paleontologist, Dr. Jack Horner, says that scientists are just 5 to 10 years away from genetically engineering the dinosaurs in existence.
As one report published recently stated, Dr. Horner works with scientists at the University of Harvard and Yale, and they look to the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, hoping to reverse-engineer them. Dr. Horner said:
“Surely, birds are dinosaurs. All we have to do is fix them so that they could look a little more like a dinosaur.”
Dr. Horner, together with his team of scientists, is going to start with the modern day chicken, the one that is widely considered a direct descendant of these giant beasts which once dominated the planet Earth. He also consulted on all four Jurassic Park movies. In one interview behind the scenes of the first movie in the franchise, the writer Michael Crichton has confessed that the hero, Dr. Alan Grand, has been an amalgam of Horner and Philip J. Currie.
The paleontologist, who is aged 71, said that when he started working on the movies for the first time, he thought dinosaurs are going to be revived in the same way as they were in the film – through preserved bits of their DNA which were taken from fossils.
But, in the following years, the paleontologist and his colleagues came to a better understanding about how the DNA degrades over time, and they also determined that this is not the course which they will need to take.
According to Dr. Horner, the chicken, together with other modern birds, possess the genetic code of their dinosaur ancestors stored within their DNA. He also believes that they will undoubtedly have the ability to manipulate the code to reverse the evolutionary process, in that way forcing mutations which are going to express more of those characteristics from ancient times. He explained:
“Dinosaurs were with long arms, tails, and hands – through the process of evolution, they lost their tails and arms, and their hands turned into wings. Also, their entire snout also changed from velociraptor-look to the bird-like beak morphology.”
He also said that he hopes that his work is going to determine a way to flip a switch in a way that is going to return genetic characteristics.
Moreover, he cited a study from 2015 as his ‘proof of concept,’ and he noted that scientists at the University of Harvard, and Yale too, could trick the head of a bird to change in dinosaur snout. He stated:
“What we do is going into an embryo which is just starting to form, and we utilize the genetic markers to identify when some genes turn on and when they turn off. With determining that, we can figure out how a tail starts developing. Also, we would like to fix the gene, so it doesn’t stop the tail from growing.”
Horner has also been confident that there will be some form called ‘chickenosaurus’ which is going to walk on the planet Earth in then years from now. He continued:
“We cannot have a bird with teeth, and we can also change its mouth. The wings and the hands are not so difficult. We are confident that we can succeed in that soon.”
However, this project is not that easy task, and Horner noted that the tail is going to be the biggest project. On the other hand, they could do certain things in recent time which gave them additional hope that it will not take too long.
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Image Credit: Shutterstock (licensed by IBMN)/By kamui29