Transforming Birds into Dinosaurs
A photo of an emu, which according to Professor Horner, may be able to be turned into a dinosaur-like creature within 50 years
Credit: J. Folmer
Copyright: Wikimedia Commons
Canadian paleontologist Hans Larsson, who is the Canada Research Chair in Macro Evolution at McGill University in Montreal, said that he“believes by flipping certain genetic levers during a chicken embryo’s development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatomy,” according toDiscovery News. Eventually, Larsson’s research may allow scientists to actually hatch prehistoric animals, although Larsson said he is not planning on trying to hatch dinosaurs right now. However, he has studied the evolution of birds for the past decade, and does want to show dinosaur traits in chickens. “It’s a demonstration of evolution,” he said.
Dinosaur traits may also soon be seen in emus. In the Discovery Channel show, Dinosaurs: Return to Life, Jack Horner, a professor and the paleontology advisor for the movies Jurassic Park, said it may be possible to retro-engineer a dinosaur from a bird. According to discoverychannel.co.uk, Horner thinks that an emu can be engineered to look like a dinosaur within 50 years. Horner said he will call this animal Emuasaurus.
Recently, new found fossils and advanced technology have shown that dinosaurs evolved into birds. According to Discovery News, in November of 2008, a new animal fossil was discovered in Montana that resembled a large bird, had feathers, laid eggs, and behaved like a bird. The fossil is 77 million years old, it is the fossil of a carnivorous animal, and it was either part of the group caenagnathid, emu-like dinosaurs, or it was a dromaeosaurid, feathered, bird-like theropods that included dinosaurs such as Velociraptor. Darla Zelenitsky, who led the study of this fossil, said in Discovery News, “We now know that egg-laying traits required gradual evolutionary changes.”
And in June of 2009, a new fossil that shows another link between dinosaurs and birds was discovered in China. Xing Xu, a Chinese paleontologist, and his team found the fossils in the Shishugou Formation in western China’s Junggar Basin, according to Discovery News. It was a small, young dinosaur that lived around 155 million years ago, it had a beak, and it is the only known herbivorous therapod. Theropods are dinosaurs that walk on two feet that are generally carnivores who lived during the Jurassic period. This particular dinosaur is the first known ceratosaur, which is a group in the theropod family, in Asia. This means that during the Jurassic period, there may have been more land connections between Asia and other continents than previously thought. Xu and his team named the dinosaur Limusaurus inextricabilis, which basically means the dinosaur that could not extricate itself from the mud.