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Scientists grow a dinosaur leg on a chicken

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Monument of Monsters
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« on: March 12, 2016, 11:20:10 pm »


Scientists tweak genes and grow a dinosaur leg on a chicken

    By Jessica Hall on March 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    31 Comments

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This just in from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong department: Scientists from the Universidad de Chile, headed by Joâo Botelho, genetically manipulated chickens so that they would grow up with legs like dinosaurs. They apparently did not notice the major premise of the latest Jurassic Park movie, because this really looks like someone in a lab coat thought “Let’s make a creature grow up to express more velociraptor-like traits and just see what happens.”

But that’s not even the crazy part. The crazy part is that to do this, the researchers didn’t insert genes from any organism.  They just silenced a gene the chickens already had.

Now, they didn’t build a chicken that looks like someone just cut-and-pasted a leathery green raptor leg onto it — but it’s close enough for government work. You see, chickens have a detached and diminished fibula. It’s the tiny pin-like (not a coincidence: fibula is Latin for pin) bone we hate in chicken legs. Suppressing one of the genes responsible for the differences between raptors and chickens — in this case, it’s a gene called Indian Hedgehog which is important to bone development — resulted in chickens that develop a full-length, tubular fibula connected at the ankle.  They ended up with chickens possessed of bone structure that matches the lower leg anatomy of a raptor. The dino-chicken leg bones look just like raptor leg bones, as visible here:
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