'Jurassic Park' Inspires Attempt to Create World's First Dino-Chicken

'Jurassic Park' Inspires Attempt to Create World's First Dino-Chicken

Apr 03, 2013

Jurassic Park logoMontana State University paleontologist Jack Horner served as a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Parkbut apparently he didn’t learn anything during his time on the set because the doctor is hard at work trying to create his own modern dinosaur hybrid. Can anything good come of this?

Okay, so it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. Horner isn’t working to revive the T. rex by cloning DNA samples; he’s instead working on genetically reengineering the common chicken so it returns to its dinosaur roots. See? It’s not that scary…

Horner tells Hollywood.com, “The whole idea of making a dinosaur came from [Crichton's] original idea. I kept thinking, 'There's got to be a way to do this.'" 

The scientist’s first attempts were clearly inspired by Crichton’s work – he tried to extract DNA from a T. rex specimen, but when that didn’t pan out he approached the problem from a new direction: reverse-engineering chicken DNA to bring back traits long since eliminated through the process of evolution.

To achieve this, Horner and his team are hard at work modifying chicken eggs in hopes of breeding a new dinosaur. Since birds still contain dinosaur DNA, the whole process mostly involves locating which gene was responsible for the ancient chicken’s long tail, three-fingered hands, mouth and other dinosaur parts. Once discovered, the theory is that the scientists will be able to “reactivate” those genes and breed chickens that look far more like dinosaurs than the birds we see on the farm. Can dino-nuggets be far behind? Will all foods now suddenly taste like dinosaur? I hope science is prepared to deal with these questions.

Jurassic Park egg hatching

As the site points out, the goal isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Scientists have already figured out how to activate a gene that gives chickens alligator teeth. How terrifying is that?

Naturally, all of this brings up a ton of ethical questions about man playing God and a potential dino-chicken apocalypse that will make the zombie apocalypse look like a stroll through Jurassic Park before all hell breaks loose. Horner tells us not to worry:

“Part of the project is to show people that it's not dangerous and it's not a bad thing... I've never heard anybody say, 'Well, I don't know, should we have made a Chihuahua?'" I think I can speak for all of us when I say “no, we probably shouldn’t have ever made the Chihuahua. There are enough yippy dogs in the world naturally without us adding to the pool without mankind creating new breeds.”

Horner remains convinced that dino-chickens will pose no threat to humanity, and he can be very persuasive when making that argument. Of course, Richard Attenborough was very reassuring, too – and look how that turned out.

I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this whole project until Horner actually makes his first major breakthrough. That being said, rest assured that I’ll be amongst the first people bowing down to our new dino-chicken overlords at the earliest sign of trouble. Life really is stranger than fiction...

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