Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dinosaurs in our future?

"Tree sap," Wu explained, "often flows over insects and traps them. The insects are then perfectly preserved within the fossil. One finds all kinds of insects in amber – including biting insects that have sucked blood from larger animals."
"Sucked the blood," Grant repeated. His mouth fell open. "You men sucked the blood of dinosaurs . . . ."
[. . .]
"If this insect has any foreign blood cells, we may be able to extract them, and obtain paleo-DNA, the DNA of an extinct creature."
~ Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton

According to Futurismic the Discovery Channel special Dinosaurs: Return to Life, talks how to recreating dinosaurs from ancient DNA that would be much more effective than Crichton described in Jurassic Park:
Paleontologist Jack Horner has a better way to resurrect dinosaurs than all that tedious mucking about with mosquitoes and blood and amber. Far easier to start with a bird and work backwards. Avian DNA already contains instructions to make tailbones, teeth, scales, and claws. In “Dinosaurs: Return to Life?”, a Discovery Channel documentary, Horner says he would start with an emu, which looks halfway like a velociraptor anyway. A chicken would do in a pinch.
I'm sure that's a bit oversimplified, but still an interesting approach to recreating the extinct ancestors of the birds.

Discovery Channel will be rebroadcasting the show in the U.S. on June 21. Here's their description:
Dinosaurs: Return to Life follows scientists who are using the latest technology and amazing advances in genetic research to revive the possibility of creating a living breathing dinosaur, but in a different way than we ever imagined.
Sounds interesting.

Image: Deinonychus antirrhopus, a theropod from the Early Cretaceous of North America, by Wikipedian ArthurWeasley
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  1. If it's of any interest, that very article from them inspired me to start writing the story I'm working on right now tentatively called "Nobody Cares About Compsagnathus". I'd rather it said something a litle more...vulgar, but the s-word is not good for story titles. It's a humorous story dealing with the very idea of reverse engineering birds back to dinosaurs. Granted, I probably have all the science wrong...I hope I don't.

  2. I do think it's interesting finding out where writers get their story ideas. Sounds like you could have a fun story. Give us an update when its published!

  3. I just sent it to Writers of the Future, so we'll see what happens!


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