|A Canadian palaeontologist believes
that he can manipulate chicken embryos in order to create a dinosaur.
Hans Larsson believes that by flipping certain genetic levers during a
chicken embryo's development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatom Photo:
Hans Larsson, the Canada Research Chair in Macro Evolution at McGill
University in Montreal, said he aims to develop dinosaur traits that
disappeared millions of years ago in birds.
Mr Larsson believes that by flipping certain genetic levers during a chicken
embryo's development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatomy, he told AFP in
Though still in its infancy, the research could eventually lead to hatching
live prehistoric animals, but Mr Larsson said he has no immediate plans to
create dinosaurs, for ethical and practical reasons - a dinosaur hatchery is
"too large an enterprise."
"It's a demonstration of evolution," saidMr Larsson, who has studied bird
evolution for the last 10 years.
"If I can demonstrate clearly that the potential for dinosaur anatomical
development exists in birds, then it again proves that birds are direct
descendants of dinosaurs."
The research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs programme and National
The idea for the project, Mr Larsson said, came about during discussions
with Jack Horner, the American paleontologist who served as technical
advisor for the Jurassic Park films.
Mr Horner recently wrote a book entitled "How to build a dinosaur", in which
he refers to the embryo experiment as part of a quest to create a "chickenosaurus."
Mr Larsson's team previously worked to uncover prehistoric animal remains,
including eight unknown species of dinosaurs and five new types of crocodile
in Niger. He also recently uncovered the remains of a new carnivorous
dinosaur in Argentina.