Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to create a dinosaur

An interview was conducted by Live Science on a paleontologist who has a fascination with dinosaurs.  Jack Horner wishes to own a dinosaur of his own one day by modifying the genes of a chicken to create features of ancient dinosaurs.  Horner was an adviser on the Jurassic Park set and even excavated a dinosaur nesting site in Montana.  Horner was the one who suggested that the animals were fast growing, warm-blooded, and that the parents cared for their young from this excavation.  Now at the forefront of his research, he believes he can hatch a dinosaur.  Sometimes organisms carry their evolutionary history with them in their genes. Human embryos, for example, have temporary tails, which are absorbed by the body during development. Rarely, babies are born with vestigial tails, the result of scrambled genetic processes that prevent the tail from getting re-absorbed. These evolutionary remnants are called atavisms.  Horner says that there is enough atavisms discovered in birds to make the idea of "reverse-engineering" a possibility.  He is trying to find a way to reactivate these atavisms.  Once he finds out how to reactive the atavisms, he would be able to de-evolve a chicken and make it a chickensaurus.  He says you would have to mess with the DNA a lot to make it something else other than a modified chicken however.  You can find more information here.

1 comment:

  1. The off-beat article entitled Has Genetic Science Gone Too Far, speaks about two different forms of modern genetics: research and engineering. It states that the research aspect has “the noble goal of understanding and explaining the effect of genes on phenotypes and in the role of genes in populations.” The engineering aspect has more people concerned about its goals. Now much of the research and engineering does have the goal of benefiting mankind particularly in regards to clinical genetics. However, there are those geneticists that wish to delve deeper into the “what-if” world of genetics. There is a website called that has an open forum on this subject. People are talking about the moral and ethical ramifications of this new era of genetic exploration.
    Everyone was riveted by the first Jurassic Park (despite the fact that many of the dinosaur species were actually from the Cretaceous, but that’s irrelevant) and by the end of the movie the genetic dream of the park’s curator John Hammond, turned out to be a nightmare for everyone except the Box Office. In my opinion, the classic line from Jeff Goldblum sums up this blog nicely, “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.” Now if this new chicken turns out to be even more tender and succulent than anything previously known to man, well now that is a noble cause afterall. Fun reading!