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Molecular Shaping of the Beak

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Science  03 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5689, pp. 1465-1466
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098109

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Abstract

Beak shape is a classic example of evolutionary diversification. Beak development in chicken and duck was used to examine morphological variations among avian species. There is only one proliferative zone in the frontonasal mass of chickens, but two in ducks. These growth zones are associated with bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) activity. By “tinkering” with BMP4 in beak prominences, the shapes of the chicken beak can be modulated.

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