Dinosaur Developments

boston museum


Like many Bostonians a great deal of my time in that fair city was spent in the Museum of Science. It is a fine museum, well suited to children. They have some incredible lightening making machines, a bed of nails that you can try out yourself, and lots of dinosaurs.

And outside the front door they have a model of a T Rex, you can see it in the photo. This model T Rex was built and placed in 1972, and here lies a story. We might feel that this great beast has been part of our culture for many years, it was first described in 1905, but the first almost full skeleton was only found in 1990 in South Dakota.

Now if you look at the model you see an upstanding T Rex, but the model is not a good replica. These dinosaurs did not stand erect like that, they were much more laid back in their posture due to their size and a considerable tail.

Here below we see the reconstruction of Sue, the first almost complete skeleton brought to life in 1990 and mentioned above. Now Sue is well balanced, looks even more ferocious, and somewhat resembles a flightless bird. Just think how quickly science is developing!

Meet Sue

Meet Sue

Birds and chickens

So here I get to the meat on the bones. Birds seem to have evolved from dinosaurs, some dinosaurs even had feathers, and recently scientists have managed to create a chicken embryo with a dinosaur-like snout and palate, similar to that of small feathered dinosaurs like Velociraptor. The results are published in the journal Evolution. You can read the abstract here.

They did not hatch the embryo, but manipulated genes that deal with facial development in birds, until the beak started to look more like a dinosour or aligator mouth. See the photo below taken from the BBC article on this story.

From Beak to Snout

From Beak to Snout

This is an interesting line of research. I am not worried about a Jurassic Park scenario, but it does seem to open a world of opportunities , and I am not sure that all of them have been explored. I wonder how far it could go?