Scientist: Humans could eventually grow beaks
2013-07-25 0:00

By Rosa Silverman, and Resham Khan | The Telegraph

It might sound more like science fiction than a serious prediction, but a biologist has suggested that humans could one day evolve to grow beaks.

Dr Gareth Fraser, of Sheffield University, said a beak would be “more robust and practical” than teeth and would not rot, chip or fall out.

We will not be seeing beaked humans in our lifetime, however, as any evolutionary change in which the teeth fused together to form a tough, pointy bill, would not happen for several million more years.

Dr Fraser said: “It could be possible for humans to evolve to grow beaks, like pufferfish, which may be more robust and practical.”

The biologist has explored why humans grow only two sets of teeth in their lifetimes, while some other creatures grow many more.

Sharks, for example, form a new set of teeth about once a fortnight.

Dr Fraser has pinpointed the cells responsible for the growth of new teeth in other animals and believes scientists could eventually stimulate similar cells in the human mouth to create more sets of teeth.

He told the Daily Mail: “I guess people will be looking at whether you can make perfect teeth. But there will always be orthodontists employed because even when you have new teeth, there is going to be a need for positioning.

“With our extended lives and modern diets, the limited supply of human teeth is really no longer fit for purpose.

“Our research is focused on looking for ways in which we can replicate the way that fish create an endless supply of teeth and bring this capability to humans.”

This is unlikely to happen for at least another 50 years however, he added.

In 2009 scientists from the University of Tokyo successfully grew replacement teeth in mice from cells in a laboratory.

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Does ’duckface’ count as a beak?

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