How to make a dinosaur: Start with a chicken . . .

Dinosaur hunter extraordinaire Jack Horner explained to an audience at TEDS that he always wanted a pet dinosaur . . .

(From a talk recorded March 4 2011.)

Jack Horner may look familiar to you.  Or you may not recognize him without the cowboy hat.  Horner is famous enough in dinosaurphile circles that a character who looked like Horner, down to the red shirt and cowboy hat, was included in the Jurassic Park movies.

This is, in loose form, real science.  It’s the sort of stuff that somehow gets squeezed out of science curricula in middle schools and high schools.  What student will not find it interesting to talk about why we can’t clone dinosaurs from mosquitoes trapped in amber, but how we can regress a chicken to bring out atavistic traits?

Such material may cause apoplexy among some cliques at the Texas State Board of Education — because this reinforces evolution ideas.  Horner says, “We can fix the chicken — because evolution works.”

Science teachers:  Can you find some way to shoehorn this stuff back into your classes?

2 Responses to How to make a dinosaur: Start with a chicken . . .

  1. Michael Lynch says:

    Thanks for posting this! As a confirmed and longtime dinophile, I’ve been following Horner’s work for quite a while. I got to meet him when he delivered a lecture at UK several years ago.



  2. Ellie says:

    Very interesting. I love TED, but somehow, missed this one. I did have to go to the TED site to watch it, though. The embedded video had a large white circle in the middle of it (for me, anyway) that I found distracting. I’ve read about atavism activation before, but frankly, found it a bit boring (the writing, not the subject). Mr. Horner makes it fascinating. But, if he makes a chickenosaurus, will I no longer be able to say, “…as scarce as hen’s teeth?”


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