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A couple of my (toothless) hens (by nutmeg66)

Scientists have discovered that rarest of things: a chicken with teeth.

Contrary to the well-known phrase, ‘As rare as hens’ teeth,’ the researchers say they have found a naturally occurring mutant chicken called Talpid that has a complete set of ivories. The team has also managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens – activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

The mutant was discovered 50 years ago and has such defects that it dies before hatching — until now it’s mouth hadn’t been examined. The discovery of teeth, similar to those of crocodiles, in the mutant led the researchers to wonder whether healthy chickens might still maintain the genetic pathways to re-grow teeth.

We found we were able to induce teeth to grow in normal chickens by making changes to the expression of particular molecules,” said Professor Ferguson. “All the pathways to make teeth are preserved which helps us understand how evolutionary changes can be brought about by subtle alterations in developmental biology.

Toothed hen
Image: John Fallon & Matthew Harris