Since I was about six years old I have been fascinated with dinosaurs. Giant scaly beasts that could run threw dense jungle or arid desert on two legs attacking their prey with massive teeth the size of an adult human hand. Some dinosaurs would meander through different environments on four legs content with their safety because they were protected with plates of armor and weapons made of steel-hard bones and scales. Our earth was a fantasy world that we can only imagine now.
Then came the book Jurassic Park that spawned a new hope that it may someday be possible to resurrect dinosaurs by finding their DNA trapped, and preserved, in solidified amber. Of course it unknown to me when the book was released that DNA degrades very slowly but fast enough that dinosaur DNA would be nearly unusable after two and half million years, exactly the amount of time it took for humans to evolve and figure out how to use DNA. My hopes of someday having to fear leaving my house, or waiting at the bus stop, because a Tyrannosaurus might be lurking behind a nearby home ready to come rushing out and tear me apart were dashed.
Then, today, I read an article that sparked back into life all the hopes and dreams of my childhood: scientists have modified chicken DNA that encodes genes called catenins, or specifically in the chicken the talpid2 gene, and caused chickens to grow teeth similar to the type of teeth that alligators grow. The catenins are regulated by another fun gene called Sonic Hedgehog, which the scientists were looking at in relation to tooth growth when they found that it regulated the tepid2 gene in chickens. The teeth that grow in the chickens are fully functional making the chicken capable of tearing flesh and bone. Oooh, how awesome and scary!
What’s next? Well, the next step, in my opinion, is to cause scales to grow on these chickens rather than feathers, increase their bone density, increase their size, and finally, grow limbs with claws instead of wings. That would be my dream come true: a living dinosaur amongst us. Is this ethical? I don’t see anything wrong with it but I’m sure there are religious folks out there that believe we should leave nature to follow its own path, or not to meddle with God’s work. Of course those people should then also not allow themselves the benefit of modern medicine either because that would also be interfering with God’s intentions to give them disease.
Here is an easy to read article about the chicken with teeth: ScienceNow.
One more thing: at present I would totally love to have a gaurd-chicken with teeth to protect my valuables. There will be a "Beware of Chicken" sign on my door.