Dinosaur Pets Are Coming
This article is inspired and dedicated to everyone on Twitter who’s ever tweeted about wanting a pet #dinosaur. I wrote this so I can send future dreamers a link to make that dream come true!
Merely the sight of a mosquito, or more recently tick, in amber drives us dinosaur fans nuts thanks to Jurassic Park. The bad news is, according to current science, DNA completely degrades after 6.8 million years. Given dinosaurs have been gone 66 million years now, we’re out of luck nearly 10 times over. Not to worry though, because dinosaurs are more than a bunch of letters scrambled together. There’s more than one way to get what we want.
Scientists are making dinosaurs, just not like in the movies.
Think of Dinosaurs, the original non-avian dinosaurs, as the Ford Model T. The very first of their kind. Now think of the birds of today as one of the many Ford cars and trucks of today. Mustangs, Explorers, F150s, Taurus’, and more. Today’s cars have better gas mileage, reach faster speeds, and have better technology overall. But today’s cars still have that core of what makes a car. An engine, four wheels, a steering column, and so on. Birds still have what makes a dinosaur buried in their DNA. Scientists just have to find it. Enter the Chickenosaurus.
Just like it sounds, the Chickenosaurus is a dinosaur that hatches from a chicken egg. Thanks to an ultra cheap, but super powerful, piece of technology called CRISPR, scientists are reverse engineering chicken embryos, expressing hidden traits of the chicken’s dinosaur ancestors. What traits are those might you ask? To get the more traditional, non-avian dinosaur dinosaur look, chickens need 3 things:
- Snouts instead of beaks.
- Hands instead of wings.
- Tails instead feathers.
This is where you get on the edge of your seat. You’ve just found out that only three discoveries are needed before dinosaurs walk the earth again for the first time in 66 million years. Now I’m going to tell you that 2 of those 3 discoveries have already been made! All that stands between extinction and existence for dinosaurs is a tail. Go ahead and replay that Jurassic Park scene where dinosaurs are seen for the first time. The rest of this can wait, enjoy your moment.
That’s the 5 million dollar question. Funding for this project started in 2011, and has actually been made directly possible thanks to Star Wars. Jack Horner, the head of the project, said in a 2017 interview that he expects a Chickenosaurus within the next 10 years. The reality is, it could literally be tomorrow, or even today. It’s a new area of science that doesn’t come with a roadmap. It’s a bit of a guessing game right now, so the progress is slow. It only takes one correct guess to bring back life that hasn’t been seen for tens of millions of years. The dawn of a whole new generation of dinosaurs.
Who is Jack Horner?
Jack Horner has been a paleontologist his entire adult life. Not only has he finished a career as the Curator for Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, but at 71 years old he’s started a second career at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. He’s made several incredible dinosaur discoveries, and has even been a film consultant throughout the Jurassic Park franchise. There’s more, but you get the idea. This is the right man for the job. He has specifically mentioned people keeping them as pets as one of the motivations behind the project. He’s in our corner.
What Comes Next?
It will be a new age for dinosaurs. Once scientists lock down the recipe for creating a Chickenosaurus, the sky’s the limit. Literally. Pick any bird and imagine it dino-fied. Cardinals and finches to ostriches and emus. Mr. Horner says that the Chickenosaurus will eat the same things regular chicken do. We’ll just have to come up with something creative to work with teeth instead of beaks. Maybe bird seed tofu? Some birds like eagles and bearded vultures aren’t going to be eating bird seed. This leads us down the Jurassic Park path of doing something just because we could, instead of asking if we should. Regardless, the future is bright for dinosaur pet owners. Now you can replay the Jurassic Park scene where the little Raptor hatches from the egg. That’s going to be you any day now.