Genetically Modifying Chickens Into Dinosaurs-That’s, That’s Chaos!

A Ph.D. student at Harvard University, Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, performed a genetic experiment on chicken embryos to change there beak into a “snout that looked like a dinosaur snout”. While the embryos were eliminated before hatching (sorry all you non Pro-Chicken Choice types) Bhullar was able to successfully prove that he could modify the beak genes.  This was all thanks to a recent genome editing technology known as CRISPR, which led itself to way too many easy crispy chicken jokes that you will be spared from.  The future of genetic modification is looking like it will be happening within the next few decades, rather than centuries.  The question remains though, is this a good thing?

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First an foremost, there isn’t going to be a Jurassic Park happening anytime soon.  Which sucks, because dinosaurs are cool as hell.  The problem is all the good DNA (meaning T.Rex DNA) is long since kaput.  Contrary to what the Goldblum rich documentary might tell, dino DNA just doesn’t last that long.  You would have a better chance of reverse engineering a chicken’s DNA to make it more of a dinosaur than it is now (birds ARE dinosaurs, fight me). However, it would be possible to use CRISPR to bring back more recently extinct species Aurochs or even Neanderthals. indian_aurochs_b_p_namadicus_3This could also be a promising future for endangered animals like Polar Bears.

Could this be taken one step further?  Are we approaching a future where people could be the proud owners of cross-species bred animals? Within our lifetime you could be the proud owner of Kangarooster or have to call Animal Control to get a Rhinocodile out of your backyard.  Hell, we could be making entirely new species, putting Hitler’s brain in them, and then wonder why we played god when it all goes wrong.

There’s also the human side of things: this technology could lead us into a Gattaca-esque future of customizable people on genetic levels.  Then we could splice in animal DNA like in that one episode of Batman Beyond.   So the question remains: is this awesome or horrifying?  We’d love to hear your thoughts and responses about this! Head over to our forums and let us know what you think.

Link to the article:  The Dino-Chickens Are Coming

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Notable Replies

  1. I wonder if you could modify DNA to get rid of certain traits/genetics. Say if you had a family history of some disease they could use that to get rid of it.

    But this is modification in a different way.

    We can finally see the future of beholding a Cat-Dog, or a Rabcat. Maybe we could even make a Pegasus. Mythical creatures to a certain extent might be the way to go. I just want to fly on such a majestic creature.

  2. Who doesn't? I'm holding out for when Griffons become cheap and readily available.

    That's a great thought. It could be a step towards getting rid of a lot of nasty things.

  3. However, it would be possible to use CRISPR to bring back more recently extinct species Aurochs or even Neanderthals. This could also be a promising future for endangered animals like Polar Bears.

    One of the things I never understood with the whole, 'DNA-to-help-endangered-species' thing is that most of the time it's loss of habitat that is a big contributing factor to the decline of the species. If you don't have enough habitat, whether that's physical acreage, food, etc, to support more of whatever species you're reintroducing, you're just going to make things worse for the 'purebred' ones out there. I'm not against making a bunch of polar bears in a petri dish to get their numbers up, but people really need to look at entire ecosystems and the sustainability of that system to support more of any given single species. I think to really make it feasible, it will involve essentially re-establishing entire ecosystems with genetically modified 'seeds' (plant, animal, fungal, etc) to regenerate entire ecosystems rather than specific species.

    When it comes to humans, this kind of stuff is really interesting to me, but also absolutely terrifying. DNA is analogous to the code that makes up the 'program' of humans and I could definitely see a future where cancer, diabetes, and all kinds of genetic ailments are a thing of the past, however at what cost to the genetic diversity of the human gene pool? We don't know how much of the underlying genetic code that is responsible for a lot of these maladies are also responsible for any number of functions or genetic traits. Which if we can successfully genetically modify humans and essentially make them to order, there is no point, in the biological sense, to sex or relationships which will bring an interesting change to the human experience. I think if they can manage to bridge the digital/human gap, and I think DNA manipulation will play a big role in that, that's scariest to me. Imagine the data collection possibilities!! Siri in your brain!

    But with all this genetic modification, I just want a chocobo to ride around on; and maybe a little minotaur as a pet.

  4. You're quite right about that. I can see this going south fast where the military ends up breeding humans that don't feel any emotions and end up like Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator look alikes.

    Imagine that, Skynet and all the other stuff... Oh god I've turned into a Tin foil hatter!

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