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We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:08 pm
by Legendary Sucker
A Dino Chicken
If you are a dinosaur fan you probably heard about Jack Horner: the paleontologist who worked in the Jurassic Park movies and inspired Dr. Alan Grant. Well, this you know. But the news are: he is trying to create a dinosaur from chicken's DNA. How is it possible?
The main idea follows the principles of atavism: making features that once existed in our ancestry reappear (of course that is not this simple. It will require new proteins with enough information to act as an interrupter over the DNA chain and other stuff).
The atavism happens naturally from times to times and an example between humans is the body covered with fur or, more uncommon, a tail.

The news are from May, but, as I was surprised that just a few people heard about it, and I didn't find anything related, I decided to post it here. If you never heard about it, I hope you enjoy this, and if you heard, leave your comments here! I'll love to read them!
Feel free to lock this if there's a thread about it already, mods.
You can read about it here
Show
Yes, this is for real.

No, there isn't dinosaur DNA trapped in amber, waiting to be replicated and cloned.

But that's not the only way to make a dino, said Jack Horner, the paleontologist who worked on "Jurassic World" (and the rest of the "Jurassic Park" films), and he wants to make it happen.

How did we get to this point, where Horner — one of the main inspirations for Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" character Alan Grant — thinks we can make a live dinosaur within five to 10 years?

"It all started with 'Jurassic Park,'" Horner told Business Insider in an interview.

In 1993, the same year the first movie came out, he and then-graduate student Mary Schweitzer, who has continued to make some amazing discoveries in the field of paleontology, tried to extract DNA from dinosaur bones.

They failed. DNA basically starts coming apart as soon as a cell dies, says Horner, and no one has ever found intact dinosaur DNA — he doesn't think it's possible. "If you did the thing they did in 'Jurassic Park,'" says Horner (referring to the story's solution of filling in dino DNA gaps with frog DNA), "you'd basically have a frog."

About 20 years of genetics research later, however, Horner has another plan — and it relies on the fact that we have a more effective way to get "dinosaur" DNA.

Going back in time
We have creatures on the planet that are the direct descendants of dinosaurs: birds. And if you ask a paleontologist, birds are dinosaurs, specifically avian dinosaurs.

They might not look like dinosaurs, but birds have feathers, just like dinosaurs, including the ferocious velociraptor. Over time, their descendants' snouts turned into beaks, they stopped growing tails, and wings further evolved into modern bird wings.

But birds didn't necessarily lose the genes that code for tails or arms or snouts — instead, those same traits most likely exist in their genetic code, inactive, while the newer genes for wings, tail feathers, and beaks are expressed.

Horner thinks that we can suppress these new genes and express the atavistic, throwback dinosaurian genes instead. And his plan is to do this first with a well-researched bird that we're all familiar with, a chicken, giving us... a "chickenosaurus," as he described in a TED talk, or a "dino-chicken."

Picture it: a small, feathered creature, with a tail that helps it balance, small arms with claws, and a toothy snout, instead of a beak.

Remember, real velociraptors were just the size of a large turkey.

Horner has talked about pet dinosaurs for a while. Publishers of his book, "How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever" came out in 2009, originally planned to release it around the same time as "Jurassic Park 4."

Basically, Horner says, he's trying to discover the genetic pathways that turned birds into the modern creatures we know, so we can turn back the clock on a chicken's evolutionary history.

And as wild as this may sound, Horner's not the only one doing this type of work. A pair of Harvard and Yale scientists recently announced they'd found a way to turn chicken beaks back into dinosaur snouts. Skeptics think building a dino snout won't be so easy, and will involve as-yet undiscovered genetics. But the researchers counter that their work shows just how fast the science in this field is developing.

Horner says we can look at the beak study as a "proof of concept" that this reverse engineering process is feasible.

That Harvard-Yale team is working on the beak. In 2014, another group reported in PLOS Biology they'd figured out how dinosaur arms fused into wings. Horner is working on the tail. And he thinks that with the right funding, we can reverse-engineer and grow a dinosaur in five to ten years.


Creating something new
If researchers reverse-engineer a bird, they'd have some sort of dinosaur, though it would still be a new species — the process by which modern birds evolved happened over tens of millions of years, and the few changes we're talking about here probably wouldn't represent an exact creature that existed 65 million years ago.

And dinosaurs that weren't of the avian variety still wouldn't be represented. We have no modern descendant of a stegosaurus or a brontosaurus (newly restored to real dino status).

But the rapidly changing world of genetics could open up the possibility for creating animals just like, say, a triceratops.

Horner says that if we were interested, we could genetically engineer creatures like these, or like anything else we can figure out a genetic code for, even if it never existed in nature. Once we figure out the genes that create a trait, those genes could potentially be incorporated into an animal. We've already done this. Researchers used the genes from jellyfish to make rabbits that glow in the dark, and other researchers made mice with transparent skin. Once we know the code for a trait, we could use that to make a creature.

Horner uses a unicorn as an example — we'd just need to add genes for a horn. "We could probably get to a unicorn before we get to a dino-chicken," he says.


So why do it?
Though some of this might sound like it's totally out there, there are practical applications. If Horner's team figures out how to make a tail grow, that might unlock the ability to better understand the growth of vertebrae and neural tissue, with fascinating medical implications.

He also thinks "if we can make a dino-chicken, it's pretty cool." It might help get kids interested in genetics at a young age — what kid doesn't love dinosaurs?

Plus, Horner points out that we've been genetically modifying the genes of animals for thousands of years. We've just called it "breeding."

"People made chihuahuas out of wolves, for God's sake," he says.
Or visit the links for more info:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-pale ... ars-2015-6

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/ ... r.chicken/

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:58 pm
by Azuline
I actually have not heard about this yet, but it sounds fascinating!
I love dinosaurs, and actually aspired to be a paleontologist when I was young.
My only concern with this idea of recreating a dinosaur is that, hopefully, they tread lightly and don't make the mistakes they did in the movies.
I hope they don't recreate any big or threatening dinosaurs, because then we'll have a repeat of Jurassic Park.
All in all, this sounds awesome and I can't waig to see what their outcome is!

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:05 pm
by Legendary Sucker
Always good to see more fascinated people around!
And no, no big dinosaurs. Actually, the result might be something like that.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:47 pm
by Azuline
Oh good, I'm glad they're not going to recreate any big dinosaurs, but can I just say that I started laughing when I saw that picture.
Knowing how temperamental some chickens can be, especially roosters, I'd honestly be a bit intimidated to meet that dino face to face!
But that doesn't seem so bad, more like a small raptor and a chicken combined.
Actually I remember reading somewhere (I don't know how valid it is now), that chickens were actually considered the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 6:06 pm
by Legendary Sucker
That's right. The famous T-Rex has as closest relatives the birds like chickens and ostriches, while alligators are more distant cousins. They found it out comparing proteins. It's kinda funny, huh? They were once the predators and now they are the prey.

But if we compare, Velociraptors are closer than T-Rex. And yet more closer is the Archaeopteryx and other small feathered dinos like it.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:27 am
by Kamaal
I had no idea! Thanks for posting this Ghost. Imagine having a dinochicken as a house pet.... That would'be been well... strange yet awesome.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:32 am
by Sobakka
I've read about this before & had a full blown discussion with some of my classmates about the ethics of doing this. I really adored the idea of dino chickens roaming around (though that probably won't happen no matter what) but this topic made me quite interested in genetics for awhile, along with my classes on genes. Would be an awesome job though, creating mini dinos. I can imagine coming home & just casually talking about a dino chicken.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:48 am
by Fireclawiswoot
Atually, crocodillians are not related to dinosaurs at all, completely different creatures.

Crocodillians are and were always cold blooded, relying on the sun to warm their bodies, where it is widely accepted now that most, if not all small dinosaurs including the raptors,were covered in feathers and were warm blooded. and even larger ones like t-rex were at least covered in down-like protofeathers and were warm blooded as well.

And the "velociraptors' or the movies never existed, well, not exactly. They were modeled after Deinonychus, while real velociraptors were only about the size of a turkey.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:25 am
by Legendary Sucker
Fireclawiswoot wrote:Atually, crocodillians are not related to dinosaurs at all, completely different creatures.

Crocodillians are and were always cold blooded, relying on the sun to warm their bodies, where it is widely accepted now that most, if not all small dinosaurs including the raptors,were covered in feathers and were warm blooded. and even larger ones like t-rex were at least covered in down-like protofeathers and were warm blooded as well.

And the "velociraptors' or the movies never existed, well, not exactly. They were modeled after Deinonychus, while real velociraptors were only about the size of a turkey.

Yeah, that's right. Crocodillians belong to the Archosauria group, what means that they are distant cousin of the dinosaurs, but they aren't a dinosaur.
Now, about the warm blood thing, that's still not determinated. The evidences poindifficultyt to a completely new physiognomy, due to the difficulty to explain how a sauropod could be homeothermic with that huge body and how could it not be, if they physical lead them to it. It's still all a great debate, that if had an answer, that part of the science would have evolved a lot more compared to its current situation.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:18 am
by La Striata

Yeah, that's right. Crocodillians belong to the Archosauria group, what means that they are distant cousin of the dinosaurs, but they aren't a dinosaur.
Now, about the warm blood thing, that's still not determinated. The evidences poindifficultyt to a completely new physiognomy, due to the difficulty to explain how a sauropod could be homeothermic with that huge body and how could it not be, if they physical lead them to it. It's still all a great debate, that if had an answer, that part of the science would have evolved a lot more compared to its current situation.
What's certain is that they most definitely weren't cold-blooded like lizards and crocs. Here are some reasons why:

1) Dinosaurs had erect rather than sprawling limbs. An erect posture requires a degree of neuromuscular coordination impossible to cold blooded animals (indeed, there are no erect-limbed or bipedal cold blooded animals).


2) Still regarding the posture, cold blooded (sprawling) animals have a three chambered heart which cannot pump blood upwards. All erect-limbed, warm-blooded animals need four chambered hearts capable of pumping blood up to the head.


3) Most reptiles are incapable of breathing and eating at the same time, but that's not a problem for them, as their low metabolism allows them to breathe little without ill effect. Dinosaurs had highly vaulted roofs in their mouths like birds and mammals, thus allowing them to breathe whilst eating (an important design feature of fast-breathing warm bloods).


4) Dinosaurs had much faster growth rates than other reptiles. Rapid growth requires a fast intake of food which only an active animal with a high metabolism can accomplish. Indeed, dinosaur fossils show a great concentration of "fibrolamellar" bone like birds and mammals, which is associated with rapid growth. No cold-blooded animal has such a large amount.


5) In warm blooded animals like mammals, the nutrient foramen (tiny holes on the limb bones which house blood vessels) are ten times larger than those of cold blooded animals, thus indicating a greater amount of bloodflow (and thus a higher metabolism). The foramen found in dinosaurs are surprisingly even larger than those found in mammals.


6) Small dinosaurs (at least Oviraptorasaurs and Troodontids) sat on their eggs like birds. It would be completely pointless for a cold-blooded animal to do so, as such an incubation method would would require the body heat of the parent to be higher than the ambient temperature.

The best resources on this topic (if it does interest you) are John Ostrom's "Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus", Pastor Robert T. Bakker's "The Dinosaur Heresies", and Gregory S. Paul's "Predatory Dinosaurs of the World".

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:08 am
by renny uwu
This is actually very interesting! I honestly never heard of this but this is really cool!

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:44 am
by Legendary Sucker
La Striata wrote:
What's certain is that they most definitely weren't cold-blooded like lizards and crocs. Here are some reasons why:
Spoiler
Show
1) Dinosaurs had erect rather than sprawling limbs. An erect posture requires a degree of neuromuscular coordination impossible to cold blooded animals (indeed, there are no erect-limbed or bipedal cold blooded animals).


2) Still regarding the posture, cold blooded (sprawling) animals have a three chambered heart which cannot pump blood upwards. All erect-limbed, warm-blooded animals need four chambered hearts capable of pumping blood up to the head.


3) Most reptiles are incapable of breathing and eating at the same time, but that's not a problem for them, as their low metabolism allows them to breathe little without ill effect. Dinosaurs had highly vaulted roofs in their mouths like birds and mammals, thus allowing them to breathe whilst eating (an important design feature of fast-breathing warm bloods).


4) Dinosaurs had much faster growth rates than other reptiles. Rapid growth requires a fast intake of food which only an active animal with a high metabolism can accomplish. Indeed, dinosaur fossils show a great concentration of "fibrolamellar" bone like birds and mammals, which is associated with rapid growth. No cold-blooded animal has such a large amount.


5) In warm blooded animals like mammals, the nutrient foramen (tiny holes on the limb bones which house blood vessels) are ten times larger than those of cold blooded animals, thus indicating a greater amount of bloodflow (and thus a higher metabolism). The foramen found in dinosaurs are surprisingly even larger than those found in mammals.


6) Small dinosaurs (at least Oviraptorasaurs and Troodontids) sat on their eggs like birds. It would be completely pointless for a cold-blooded animal to do so, as such an incubation method would would require the body heat of the parent to be higher than the ambient temperature.

The best resources on this topic (if it does interest you) are John Ostrom's "Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus", Pastor Robert T. Bakker's "The Dinosaur Heresies", and Gregory S. Paul's "Predatory Dinosaurs of the World".

Yep, that's awesome, uh? Not mentioning that some fossils were found in places where the temperature would defeat any poikilothermic animal. Thanks for sharing it, La Striata! Always good to see dino lovers around x3 ... All this certainly explain the physiognomy of the giant carnivores and small herbivores, but the sauropods are still a question mark.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:54 am
by La Striata
Just to clear things up a bit, they're not recreating any previously existing dinosaur. Chickens are already dinosaurs (non-avian ones in any case), and all that's really going to be done is remove the genes inhibiting tail and tooth growth and probably those responsible for fusing the fingers together.

Strangely, this might turn the chicken into a pure carnivore, as beakless, fanged dinosaurs were almost invariably fish/insect eaters.

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:24 pm
by alethe
there is an entire series of movies that states why creating dinosaurs is a bad idea

Re: We might see a dinosaur soon: Meet the Chickenosaurus

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:48 am
by La Striata
Skybreaker wrote:there is an entire series of movies that states why creating dinosaurs is a bad idea
Yes, a series of movies that think that Velociraptors were featherless, perpetually hungry monsters with ape-level intelligence. Says a lot...