Jurassic Park becomes real (almost).
Harvard biologist claims to be able to reverse evolution.
Scientists at Harvard University announce that they have "rewound" evolution producing a chicken with an alligator-like snout by manipulating its DNA. Perhaps not quite Jurassic Park, but it's certainly something akin.
Evolutionary biologists explain that modern birds may be among the closest living relatives to dinosaurs.
Evolutionary biologists have long claimed that birds are closely related to reptiles, having evolved feathers in place of scales and learning to fly as a result of millions of years of natural selection. Now they may have yet more evidence to support the theory.
In addition to developing the understanding of evolutionary theory, the process is hailed as a means of detecting and possibly eliminating birth defects in children before they are born. The ability to easily manipulate genes could also prove useful in adapting species of animals to better survive the effects of climate change which many scientists claim threatens countless species.
The mere addition of a protein to the DNA is all that appears to have been required to undo millions of years of evolution. Dr. Abzhanov was able to stop the development of selected molecules which themselves develop into particular features. This method of molecular manipulation could allow researchers to encourage or prevent the development of particular features in organisms, possibly including humans, thus giving the research a very practical application, which would be to prevent birth defects in humans.
Dr. Abzhanov plans to continue his work and hopes to someday reverse the evolution of the chicken and produce a prehistoric ancestor to the bird. Similar work is being done by Dr. Jack Horner, a paleontologist from the University of Montana. If their efforts are successful, they could recreate some of the chicken's prehistoric ancestors in the lab. More importantly, their work shows just how easy it is to manipulate DNA of animals, and likely humans.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Dr. Abzhanov, Harvard, evolution, biology, chicken, DNA, natural selection, birth defects
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