We want to build a dinosaur. A living, breathing animal that would have fit right in among its ancestors 70 million years ago. It’s an incredible and now possible undertaking. This project is outside the realm of regular funding channels, so we’re reaching out to you, the public, for help.
I’m Jack Horner, the paleontologist who helped with the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. Due to recent advances, my dream to re-engineer dinosaur traits in birds is becoming a reality.
A number of discoveries are already proving that making dinosaurs is possible. A lab at Yale, for example, has shown that introducing a protein (concentrated inside tiny ‘leaky beads’) can convert a bird-like beak to a dinosaur-like snout in chicken embryos. Teeth have also been found in a chicken mutant, the talpid chicken. Wing claws and elaborate head crests are already found in certain modern birds, so we need only appropriate these traits. The last part of the puzzle our lab was working on is the tail. Up until now, our lab has been studying the biology of the bird tail, to understand the changes that occurred during evolution so we can reverse them. With the recent discovery in mice that a certain protein causes longer tails, we are now ready to make a long dinosaur tail on a chicken.
This will be a multi-step process. First, we will introduce the Lin28 protein at the end of chicken embryo tails using the leaky bead approach. Then, when we have demonstrated that we can extend tail length, we will employ CRISPR technology to change the chicken’s DNA, so that the long-tailed trait can be passed on to chicken offspring. I won’t lie: there’s no guarantee this will work. If we never try anything, though, we’ll never know what is possible.
When you approach science from a new vantage point, you are in a prime position to make new discoveries. Already, just by studying chicken tail biology, we are finding incredible things, one even related to humans. We think we’ve discovered the long sought-after trigger for a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a devastating and common human back disease where back bones fuse together. We’ve also found structures in birds that were supposedly lost in evolution, but no one had yet looked in the right place for them. By actually engineering long tails on a modern bird, we anticipate we will continue to make game-changing discoveries.
A whole lot of children and myself and many other people my age would love to see a dinosaur, and this project aims to make one, but don’t worry, dinosaurs are only mean and nasty when they are in fictional movies.
All donations will go in full to the DinoChicken Project, which is being conducted in our lab in Montana. We have all the equipment we need, but need to pay Dana, our developmental biologist, and her undergraduate student assistants, and we also need to pay for supplies like glassware and chemical reagents and buffers and viable eggs. Any help would be hugely appreciated! Thank you for visiting our page,
Jack and Dana and our undergraduate students
DonationsSee top donations
- Patrick Freebern
- Eric Horner
- Eldon Bergeron-Lapointe
Fundraising team: Dinochicken (2)
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