Scientists are still trying to carefully map out the anatomical changes that occurred between dinosaurs and birds during this time, and there’s arguably no better way to do this than to engage in a little “reverse evolution.” With this in mind, a team of researchers has grown “dinosaur legs” in chicken embryos, as revealed in their study in the journal Evolution.
Remarkably, previous research manipulating chickens into “becoming” dinosaurs has already taken place. Back in 2015, a study showcased that chickens that had been tweaked during embryonic development could grow a dinosaur-like snout. A year earlier, a more low-tech study demonstrated how a few strategically-placed weights could make a chicken walk along like a Tyrannosaurus rex.
This new research aimed to uncover the secrets behind the development of dinosaurian skeletons, once again using chickens. In fact, they’re already veterans when it comes to reverse evolving: In 2015, the researchers managed to get chickens to grow dinosaur-like feet. This time, they were interested in how the leg bones themselves grow.