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Bringing dinosaurs back in the form of chickens

August 14, 2011 - Washington

Scientists are hoping to create dinosaurs or dinosaur-like creatures in the not-so-distant future.

According to Jack Horner, a renowned dinosaur paleontologist at Montana State University and the technical adviser for all the Jurassic Park films, we've never actually found dino DNA.

He and his colleagues discovered soft tissue from a Tyrannosaurus rex in 2005, but even that contained no usable material: "The soft tissue is apparently composed of biomolecules other than DNA," Horner told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

Thus, sequencing the dinosaur genome from fossilized tissues or blood may never be a viable route to their revival, he said.

But geneticists are trailblazing an alternative path to Jurassic Park. In the past few years, several groups working independently have begun to awaken the dormant dinosaur DNA present in one of the extinct creatures' descendents: chickens, whose genome is fully sequenced.

Led by Horner, the scientists hope to eventually grow a chicken that has teeth, scales, a tail, and forelimbs.

In a word, they want to build a "dinochicken," and it'll be pretty darn close to the real thing. Well that's what they say.


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