For years, scientists have been trying to “prove” that dinosaurs evolved into birds by tinkering with the DNA of existing birds.
In May 2015, researchers announced they created the first chicken embryos with longer, flatter snouts, instead of beaks. The scientists say these snouts are a throwback to the evolutionary ancestor of birds, the dinosaurs, but are they really?
To create these embryos, researchers focused on two genes that control the development of the middle of the face in chickens. Now, I bet you’re thinking they modified these genes, but no, they didn’t. They used special molecules to suppress the activity of the proteins these genes produce. The resulting embryos had flatter snouts where the premaxillae (small bones of the upper jaw) were not fused like they are in bird beaks. The scientists referred to these embryos as the ancestral dinosaur state of the chicken.
Although the scientists did not allow the embryos to hatch, they have used the CT scans to claim that it would have been easy for evolution to change a dinosaur snout into a bird beak.
Easy? The scientists themselves admit they are not capable of genetically modifying an embryo into a dinosaur at this point. In fact, their easy method didn’t alter the genes of the chicken at all, just the proteins those genes produced.
Do these experiments really give us any information about evolution? All they tell us is that humans (as intelligent beings) can experimentally change through purposeful actions the complex workings of another creature. In this experiment, the scientists didn’t create anything. They were only able to change what was already there, and not even through random selective pressures, but by design.
What do you think? Can you make a Chickenasaurus in a lab? Would it really be a dinosaur?
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