Paignton Zoo have successfully created a bird–dinosaur hybrid using fossilised dinosaur cells and genetic material from a female hamerkop. A giant egg was laid by the female on the morning of 1 April, and this has since been checked over by Paignton Zoo’s veterinary team and confirmed to be viable.
The hybrid species will have features from the dinosaur ‘parent’, Fatuusaprillis, from the Late Jurassic period, with the rest of the genes coming from the hamerkop. The outcome of this ground-breaking experiment is expected to be a mixture of the two species, taking the hamerkop’s highly social nature and pairing it with the impressive eye-sight and large wingspan of its dinosaur counterpart.
The huge egg will take around 30 days to hatch, after which both of the zoo’s adult hamerkops will take care of the chick. Vets and keepers will keep a close eye on the hatchling, monitoring its behaviour and tracking its growth.
Paignton Zoo hopes that this exciting new subspecies will provide evidence for the use of fossilised specimens in the future to create new and exciting species.