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« : December 30, 2011, 11:19:15 AM »

Some might say that only a bird brain could come up with such a plan, but scientist Jack Horner is hoping to use living birds to hatch a dinosaur.

Horner, the technical adviser on Jurassic Park and professor of palaeontology at Montana State University believes that a modern bird’s DNA contains a genetic memory that could be ‘switched on’ again, resurrecting long-dormant dinosaur traits.

What’s more, he’s looking for a helper to assist in the retro-engineering of a prehistoric beast.

Horner explains that to make a dinosaur, he would start with the genome (the whole hereditary information encoded in the DNA) of an emu.

‘Emus have all the features we need in order to make a Velociraptor-sized dinosaur,’ he says.

‘If I were to make a dinosaur, that is where I’d start.’

Far-fetched as this sounds, his work is supported by other leading academics.

Sean Carroll, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin, says: ‘The inventory of genes in a bird would be very similar to the inventory of genes in a dinosaur.

‘It is differences in the decision-making that takes during development that make the difference between a chicken and a tyrannosaurus.’

Hans Larsson, a palaeontologist at McGill University in Canada, conducted an experiment recently into the evolution from dinosaurs’ long tails into birds’ short tails more than 150 million years ago.

Looking at a two-day-old chicken embryo, he made an unexpected discovery.

Expecting to see between four and eight vertebrae present in the developing spine, his microscope instead picked out 16 vertebrae - effectively a reptilian tail.

As the embryo developed, the ‘tail’ became shorter and shorter, until the young bird hatched with only five vertebrae.

Larsson says of the significance of the find: ‘For about 150 million years, this kind of a tail has never existed in birds.

'But they have always carried it deep inside their embryology.’

So, the blueprint for a dinosaur remained locked inside the modern-day bird.

Larsson now believes that in a hundred years or so, geneticists could retro-engineer animals that appear identical to Mesozoic dinosaurs.

‘Why can’t we take all the genetics, just change it around a little bit, and produce a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or something that looks like one?’ he asks.

‘I think that kind of scenario is quite possible. Maybe sooner than we think.’
John Fallon, a developmental biologist at the University of Wisconsin, agrees, saying: ‘As we learn more, we’ll be able to do it.
'The genetic knowledge is in the bird.’

Horner, meanwhile, imagines creating the first example.

‘I have to admit that I’ve certainly imagined walking up on a stage to give a talk, and having a little dino-chicken walk up behind me,’ he says.

‘That would be kind of cool.

‘There is now nothing to stop us bringing back dinosaurs but ourselves.

'People who don’t believe it don’t know much about evolution.’

But he adds: ‘Whether it is a good idea or not is another question...’



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« #1 : December 30, 2011, 04:06:25 PM »

Emus have all the features we need in order to make a Velociraptor-sized dinosaur,’ he says.

Why would they want to recreate a raptor...didn't they learn anything from Jurassic Park 1+2?


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« #2 : December 30, 2011, 04:16:17 PM »

The problem, it would seem is that birds aren't descendents of dinos but have a common ancestor with some dinos. It isn't enough to merely reverse engineer back to a point in time (as if that was easy to "undo" tens of millions of years of genetic drift and mutations) but you also have to move forward down the dino line which spent millions of years adding it's own mutations and drift.

Birds and dinos were on the same road at one point but the birds got off at an exit and the dinos kept going. Merely rewinding the tape to the exit won't get you a dino, you would then have to follow them down the road they left.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.
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