The researchers genetically modified unborn chickens – got dinosaur bones

The anatomy resembles a 150 million year old fossil. By shutting down a gene, the researchers got chicken embryos to develop calves like dinosaurs.

The scientific mapping of the birds’ evolutionary journey from dinosaurs is still ongoing, but it is believed that birds have sprung from the genus that includes Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor. About 85 million years ago, their small, bipedal and carnivorous cousins ​​had already taken the first steps – in addition to developing feathered wings that let them fly, their bodies and brains had also become more bird-like, even though their teeth had not yet been replaced by a beak.

In 2015, researchers in the United States shut down a couple of genes in chicken embryos during the development phase, and despite the intervention being limited, the chickens developed what looked more like the nose of a dinosaur than a conventional chicken beak. It writes Inverse.

Now a research team has at University of Chile in Santiago managed to grow dinosaur bones in chicken embryos, writes IFL Science.

Similar to Archeopteryx

In 2015, the same team managed to develop dinosaur-like feet, but now their ambition was to learn more about the development of dinosaur skeletons, and specifically the growth in the legs.

One difference in chickens is that their calves over time release their contact with the ankle. To understand when this change occurred, their DNA was examined, and by shutting down a certain gene, the researchers were able to make the calf bone continue to grow longer, as in dinosaurs.

The genetics of the chickens hold back the calf bone, but the length is also slowed down by the growth of a bone in the ankle. When the researchers switched off the gene, another gene suddenly became more active, and it caused the calf bone to grow until it connected to the ankle. The anatomy resembled Archeopteryx, which lived 150 million years ago and was a feathered cousin of the birds’ ancestor. The researchers have published their work in the scientific journal Evolution.