To better understand evolution, particularly how birds evolved, some million years ago, scientists from the University of Chile have experimented on chicken embryo grown with dinosaur legs.
It’s a known fact in the field of science that birds and chickens, for that matter, are dinosaurs. They are among the present-day animals that are direct descendants of long-gone dinosaurs. Over the course of millions of years, birds, to which chickens belong, have evolved and survived the test of time.
But through the course of millions of years, chickens have lost some of the primitive traits and features of their ancestors. One of which is their humongous and powerful lower legs. The drumstick of the chicken or its lower leg contains two main bone structures: fibula (spine-like bone) and the tibia (thicker).
During the embryonic development in most bird species, these two main bone structures are of equal length, the Phys Org reports. But as the embryo matures, the tibia outgrown the fibula and it’s no longer attached to the ankle, but only to the knee. This mechanism during the embryonic development is responsible why fibula in the chicken’s lower legs lose its power.
In order to understand more the evolution process in birds, which happened some 150 million years ago, scientists Joâo Botelho and Alexander Vargas from the University of Chile have genetically modified a chicken embryo, which they designed to grow fibula and tibia with equal size. The result: dinosaur-like lower legs.
However, McGill University’s Hans Larsson, who conducted a similar study, told the CBC News that Botelho’s study actually is more than producing a chick with dinosaur-like feature, but the study brings back “a more ancestral trait, which dinosaurs had.”
Larsson added that the Chilean researchers most likely, will not be allowed to hatch the embryos as it would raise ethical issues, saying “It’s because there’s no scientific reason to do so.