From Thomas Hayden, “How to Hatch a Dinosaur” (Wired September 26, 2011):
Human beings are almost indistinguishable, genetically speaking, from chimpanzees, but at that scale we’re also pretty hard to tell apart from, say, bats.
Yeah, it figures. Batman.
Hints of long-extinct creatures, echoes of evolution past, occasionally emerge in real life—they’re called atavisms, rare cases of individuals born with characteristic features of their evolutionary antecedents. Whales are sometimes born with appendages reminiscent of hind limbs. Human babies sometimes enter the world with fur, extra nipples, or, very rarely, a true tail. Horner’s plan, in essence, is to start off by creating experimental atavisms in the lab. Activate enough ancestral characteristics in a single chicken, he reasons, and you’ll end up with something close enough to the ancestor to be a “saurus.” At least, that’s what he pitched at this year’s TED conference, the annual technology, entertainment, and design gathering held in Long Beach, Calif
Key theorist Jack Horner explains,
Now all he needed to make it happen, he told his TED audience, was a few breakthroughs in developmental biology and genetics and all the chicken eggs he could get his hands on. “What we’re trying to do is take our chicken, modify it, and make,” he said, “a chickenosaurus.”
The skeletons of a chicken and a T. Rex re quite similar, he says.
He has some seed money and is looking for a developmental biology postdoc to help.
Here’s his TED talk.
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