Scientists say they could recreate living dinosaurs within five to 10 years

Scientists say they could recreate living dinosaurs within five to 10 years
Photo credit: File

Scientists are claiming they could recreate living dinosaurs within the next five to 10 years.

The palaeontologist who inspired Jurassic Park protagonist Dr Alan Grant is spearheading the genetic research.

Dr Jack Horner, who has consulted on all four Jurassic Park films, believes the answers lie with chickens.

Back in the early 1990s when Dr Horner began advising Steven Spielberg, scientists presumed the key to recreation was in ancient strands of dinosaur DNA. However, further study into DNA degradation ruled that out.

Since then, scientists at Harvard and Yale have turned to the option of reversing evolution - for example, taking a chicken and mutating it back into its prehistoric roots.

"Of course birds are dinosaurs," Dr Horner told People magazine.

"We just need to fix them so they look a little more like a dinosaur."

Dr Horner said there are four major differences between dinosaurs and birds: their tails, arms, hands and mouths.

He and his team have already manipulated certain genetics in chicken embryos to successfully reverse-engineer the bird's beak into a velociraptor-like snout.

In fact, he says, the wings and hands shouldn't be very difficult to develop either.

"The tail is the biggest project. But we have been able to do some things recently that have given us hope that it won't take too long."

He says the scientists manage the genetic engineering by going into an embryo that's just beginning to form.

They then use genetic markers to identify when certain genes turn on and when they turn off.

"By determining when certain genes turn on, we can sort of figure out how a tail begins to develop. And we want to fix that gene so it doesn't stop the tail from growing."

The news comes just in time for the release of the fourth filmic instalment of the Jurassic series.

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