Scientists Genetically Modify Chicken With Dinosaur Legs. For Science.

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Yes, scientists have successfully gotten a chicken embryo to essentially grow the leg structure of its ancient ancestors – dinosaurs part of a group called Coelurosauria. According to the popular science blog IFLS, this actually isn’t the first time scientists have used chickens to recreate an ancient anatomy:

Remarkably, previous research manipulating chickens into “becoming” dinosaurs has already taken place. Back in 2015, a study showcased that chickens that had been tweaked during embryonic development could grow a dinosaur-like snout. A year earlier, a more low-tech study demonstrated how a few strategically-placed weights could make a chicken walk along like a Tyrannosaurus rex.

This new research aimed to uncover the secrets behind the development of dinosaurian skeletons, once again using chickens. In fact, they’re already veterans when it comes to reverse evolving: In 2015, the researchers managed to get chickens to grow dinosaur-like feet. This time, they were interested in how the leg bones themselves grow.

What researchers at the University of Chile discovered is that by suppressing a single gene, the fibulae of the chicken embryos grew longer and more dinosaur-like. The resulting structure resulted in chicken embryos that had very similar legs to fossils of their ancestors.

Image: Joâo Botelho et. al./Evolution
Image: Joâo Botelho et. al./Evolution

Researchers did not allow the embryos to hatch, so don’t go booking your trip to Jurassic Park quite yet.