Dinosaurs could be brought back by 'de-evolving' birdsS

It's looking extremely unlikely that we'll ever be able to revive dinosaurs using their fossilized DNA, but if a British biochemist is right, we may be able to recreate these ancient animals by rewinding the DNA of birds.

In a recent Telegraph article, Oxford University's Dr. Alison Woollard explained that, by identifying and altering certain genes found in the DNA of modern birds, scientists may be able to reconstruct the genomes of dinosaurs:

"We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today," said Dr Woollard.

"The most famous of these is the Archaeopteryx, a fossil which clearly shows the transition between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds.

"This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today's birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits.

"Could we 'rewind' evolution by switching these genes back on and using them to guide the development of that bird's offspring, and its offspring's offspring, backwards?"

All animals and plants are related, sharing a common ancestor that lived about 1.6 billion years ago.

"In theory we could use our knowledge of the genetic relationship of birds to dinosaurs to 'design' the genome of a dinosaur," said Dr Woollard.

The challenge, says Woollard, is understanding the full length of a dinosaur's genome to know which "edits" to make to a bird's genome; surviving dinosaur snippets would be found in very short fragments. So, to make a full genome, scientists would likely have to combine together millions of short fragments of nucleic acids in exactly the right order.

Read the entire article at the Telegraph.

Top image: Audry Atuchin/Natural History Museum