Dinosaurs could potentially walk among us in real life soon as the paleontologist that inspired the original Jurassic Park movie announced a research project about bringing the extinct creatures back to life.
According to Dr. Jack Horner, scientists are only 5 to 10 years away from genetically engineering dinosaurs into existence.
As it was written in one report by PEOPLE, Horner works together with some scientists at Harvard and Yale, and they are looking to the closest living relatives of dinosaurs hoping of reverse-engineering them. Horner said:
Of course, that birds are dinosaurs. So, we only need to fix them somehow, so they look a little more like a dinosaur.
Horner together with his team is reportedly going to start with the chicken of modern day, which is widely considered a direct descendant of the massive beasts which once dominated the Earth.
Horner has also consulted on the four Jurassic Park films. In a behind the scenes interview from the first movie in the franchise, the writer named Michael Crichton confessed that the hero, Dr. Alan Grant, was an amalgam of Horner and Philip J. Currie.
The paleontologist aged 71 said that when he first started work on the movies, he believes that dinosaurs would be revived in the same way they are in the film – through preserved bits of their DNA which were taken from fossils. But, in the years since, he together with his colleagues have come to understand better how DNA degrades over time, as well as determined that this is not the course which they will need to take.
As Horner sees it, the chicken, as well as a lot of other contemporary birds, contain the genetic code of their dinosaur ancestors, which is stored within their own DNA. He also believes that they are going to have the ability to manipulate that code to reserve the evolutionary process, in that way forcing mutations which are going to express more and more of those ancient characteristics.
Horner explained to the reporters:
Dinosaurs had long tails, as well as arms and hands – and during evolution, they have lost their tails, and their arms, as well as hands, turned into wings. Also, their whole snout has also changed from the velociraptor-look to the bird-like beak morphology.
Horner also said that he hopes his work is going to determine a way to flip a switch in such a way that they are going to get these ancestral characteristics back.
Also, he cited one study from 2015 as his “proof of concept,” nothing which scientists at Harvard and Yale could trick the head of a bird into changing into a dinosaur snout.
Basically, what we are doing is going into an embryo which is just starting to form, and use some genetic markers to sort of identity when several genes turn on and when they turn off. And, by determining when certain genes turn on, we can actually sort of figure out how a tail starts to develop. We also want to fix that gene, so it does not stop the tail from growing.
He was completely confident that some form of what he called a "chickensoraus" is going to be walking the earth within ten years. He said:
We can actually make a bird with teeth, and we can change its mouth. And, the wings and hands are not as difficult. We are pretty sure that we can do that soon.
However, the project is not a simple task, and Horner noted that the tail is the biggest project. On the other hand, they could do some things recently which have given them some hope that it is not going to take too long.