05/15/2015

Chicken Beaks and Dinosaur Snouts

5:50 minutes

An artist's rendition of the non-avian dinosaur Anchiornis and a tinamou, a primitive modern bird, depicted with transparent snouts.
An artist’s rendition of the non-avian dinosaur Anchiornis and a tinamou, a primitive modern bird, depicted with transparent snouts. By John Conway

Modern birds evolved from a group of small carnivorous dinosaurs 150 million years ago. Developmental biologist Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, working with his doctoral advisor Arhat Abzhanov, retraced this history by molecularly transforming an embryonic chicken beak into a snout that was structurally similar to a small dinosaur. Bhullar discusses what this genetic approach could tell us about the transition from dinosaurs to chickens.

Segment Guests

Bhart-Anjan Bhullar

Bhart-Anjan Bhullar is post-doctoral scholar at the University of Chicago and assistant professor and curator of geology and geophysics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Meet the Producer

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.