Monday, May 18, 2009

Best Mad Scheme Ever

PZ Myers is enthusiastic about the prospect of tweaking chickens' development to make living dinosaurs, a blueprint of which he found in a new book by Jack Horner and James Gorman. Enthusiasm is one thing; the surprising thing is that Myers, who knows developmental biology if anyone does, finds the scheme plausible:

And then, once you've got a tailed chicken, you could work on adding teeth to the jaws. And foreclaws. And while you're at it, find the little genomic slider that controls body size, and turn it up to 11. What he's proposing is a step-by-step analysis of chicken-vs.-dinosaur decisions in the developmental pathways, and inserting intentional atavisms into them. This is all incredibly ambitious, and it might not work…but the only way to find out is try. I like that in a scientist. Turning a chicken into a T. rex is a true Mad Scientist project, and one that I must applaud.
Yes! I would prefer we hold off on turning up the genomic body size slider to 11 until after we've thoroughly validated the approach, if only because a shins-high T-Rex would be absolutely adorable, whereas a full-sized one would likely create public relations problems from all the heedless predation.

Start small, I say -- but do start today.


TheDeviantE said...

I say "indeed!" to the shins high T-Rex. The little arms alone would sell me...

Dale said...

I'll just say I hope they get along with cats, because if not, there will be blood.