Raring for a rarity to come off a rear? Like hens’ teeth, it’s ...

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A WORD IN THE HAND: RARE

Raring for a rarity to come off a rear? Like hens’ teeth, it’s possible

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

An honest politician is as rare as hens’ teeth, or so the saying goes. The point being that hens do not have teeth, therefore, by extension, there must be no such thing as an honest politician.

Ah, but wait now. In 2006, in a collaborative experiment carried out by researchers on both sides of the Atlantic — in Wisconsin in the US and Manchester in the UK — scientists did in fact succeed in breeding chickens with teeth.

The fact that academic bodies get state funding for studies of this is somewhat flummoxing. You’d think such things would be poultry compared with the urgent need for human cosmetic dentistry, particularly in Manchester. Be that as it may, these scientific teams manipulated the genes of chicken embryos and successfully activated the latent biological ability, unused for about 80 million years, to grow teeth...

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