More genetic engineering-related news has come from the unlikeliest of places, namely from the lab of Alexandar Vargas at the University of Chile. A researcher named Joao Botelho has successfully managed to genetically recreate a longer fibula in a bird embryo. The fibula is a long, thin bone that runs down the length of the lower leg. In the case of Botelho’s study, a bird fibula was used. This bone does not extend down to the ankle in modern birds while in the birds’ dinosaur ancestors it certainly did.
They also found that modern bird embryos actually start out with this ancestral trait. Over time, the fibula shortens greatly and the adult bird has a tiny, splinter of a fibula instead of a long and hollow one. All the researchers on the Chilean team had to do was inhibit the gene that allowed for this kind of bone growth at an embryonic level.
This does not, however represent something akin to bringing the dinosaurs back to life for either Vargas or Botelho. Rather, their goal was to understand the evolution of birds on the molecular level like never before. It is uncertain if this will be taken as a new episode in the long and convoluted story of the chickensaurus, so all we can do is wait for more research to come out.