Recently, a team of scientists have collected alligator scales and managed to transform them into feathers in their laboratory. It may sound like a strange experiment, but the team actually had a very clear purpose. They did this to find out how dinosaurs developed feathers over the years and how did birds manage to evolve from those beasts. According to Cheng-Ming Choung, lead author of the study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, if the humans’ greatest achievement when it comes to evolution is the brain, for the birds is their feathers.
It seems like in order to make this experiment, the team of experts isolated the genes that helped with the development of feathers in birds. After that, they started stimulating those same genes in alligator embryos. This made their scales turn into feathers.
From scales to feathers
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 2, 2017
According to a scientific article from the Smithsonian Mag, those dinosaurs that over the years evolved into birds also had scales. However, over the years, paleontologists have discovered over 30 types of dinosaurs that had feathers. What’s more interesting is that those particular dinosaurs are not the direct ancestors of birds. This particular group of feathered dinosaurs was called coelurosaurs. And not only small dinosaurs had feathers, but also very large ones like the tyrannosaurs.
However, there is one species still alive today that is almost identical with those ancient beasts: alligators. This is why the experts chose them for this experiment. Also, alligators and birds have a common ancestor in the archosaur.
Now, after their attempt to turn scales into feathers proved successful, the team of scientists has started collaborating with plastic surgeons. Their wish is to lend a helping hand in reanimating human scar tissue.
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