Discovery News - The big questions for 2012


Could 2012 be the year of Chickenosaurus, the first dinosaur to live in modern times?

You might recall our story from a few years ago, describing what was then referred to as "Dinochicken." To recap, Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, told me that he and some colleagues were working to create a dinosaur out of a chicken.

The goal is to bring back multiple dinosaur characteristics, such as a tail, teeth and forearms, by changing the levels of regulatory proteins that have evolved to suppress these characteristics in modern birds.

The timing of this announcement coincided with the release of Horner's book, "How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever" (Dutton Adult, 2009). He suggested to me then that he and some colleagues, such as Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal, were already moving forward with the project.

Larsson and his team are analyzing the genes involved in tail development and researching ways of manipulating chicken embryos in order to "awaken the dinosaur within."