BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Grasping every aspect of the evolutionary process is a complicated endeavor. Many would spend the life trying to master the lesson of how life on Earth evolved. Recently, in an attempt to gratify father Darwin, a team of Chilean scientist managed to genetically engineer a dino-legged chick.
We know from the biology classes that birds are akin to dinosaurs. This is no mystery. But how are the birds related to dinosaurs? Surely, anyone can tell you that this kinship between modern birds and the ancient land giants can be determined by checking up a bird’s legs.
Those scaly formations found on a bird’s legs, be it a chicken or an eagle, is the only sign that the feathered beasts are the proud inheritors of the dinosaurs.
Starting from this assumption, a team of scientists wanted to see just how far these similarities can go.
Alexander Vargas, the lead investigators of the study, explained that all birds on Earth evolved from a species of dinosaurs called theropods. This dino genus included some of the largest land predators like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and other species which favored their hind legs.
Chronologically speaking, Theropods first appeared during the so-called Carnian period, approximately 231.4 million years ago. Although the genus was carnivorous in the beginning, several subspecies evolved omnivorous and herbivorous behavior.
On the same note, according to the latest research, birds evolved from the same branch approximately 145 million years ago. Despite the fact that most modern birds have shed their dinosaur-like aspect, the researchers wanted to see if there are any dormant traits.
Vargas and his team used the embryo of a chick to study this evolutionary process. The first process was to find out the correct gene that accounts for all morphological changes.
The team identified the gene as being the Indian Hedgehog Homologue and according to them, this gene is not only common among birds and dinos but among humans too.
By manipulating the genetic strand, the scientists were successful into waking the chick’s dinosaur-like features. More specifically, the scientists managed to reshape the chick’s fibula, to look exactly like it back when the evolutionary process was still in its infancy.
The Chilean scientists who created the dino-legged chick declared that this discovery is indeed ground-breaking. Not only did the researchers managed to activate dormant genes, but they’ve also managed to shed some light on the bird’s evolutionary process.
The research project detailing about the genetically engineered dino-legged chick was published in the Nature journal on Tuesday.