Jurassic Chicken Attacks!

From: Spudboy100@aol.com
Date: Thu Jul 19 2001 - 06:47:37 MDT


The scientists in the film Jurassic Park
              reconstructed dinosaurs from DNA preserved in

              That fiction is unlikely
              ever to become fact
              because DNA simply is
              not tough enough to
              survive in that way.

              But reconstructing a
              dinosaur from genes
              passed down the evolutionary tree to modern
              birds might be viable before the end of the
              century, according to scientists in the United

              "On the timescale of 50-100 years... you might
              conceivably be able to alter the DNA of a
              chicken, say, to reconstruct something that
              looks more like a dinosaur," David Stern, an
              evolutionary biologist at Princeton University
              told the BBC.

              Justified speculation?

              The speculation may be justified because the
              current explosion of information about the
              genetic make-up of various creatures, plants
              and organisms has made it clear just how many
              modern genes are closely related or even
              identical to those of long extinct life forms.

              Moving from this
              understanding to
              actually designing a
              prototype ancient
              creature is, however, a
              huge leap.

              "You can imagine that if
              we have some
              understanding of how
              the same genes are
              used in, say, a chicken
              and a lizard to generate the differences
              between those two species, then we can
              imagine trying to reconstruct something that
              looks more like a dinosaur.

              "You would have to change the way that
              those genes are used during development to,
              say, make the bones larger, or longer, or
              shorter," David Stern explained.

              "What we're really seeking is a very basic
              understanding of how these genes operate
              during development in a very wide range of
              organisms," he said.

              Initial successes

              As Philip Cohen writes in the magazine New
              Scientist, there have been some initial

              A Californian team has managed to get the
              beaks of chicken embryos to grow tooth buds,
              something their ancestors lost the ability to do
              60 million years ago.

              Any dinosaur put together using these
              techniques would be unlikely to be a perfect
              replica of an extinct one. It would more likely
              be a generic prototype, combining different
              features and forms.

              David Stern says that we should be using the
              time we have before such things are possible
              to consider what they would mean.

              "It's going to raise a number of ethical
              questions. It's a very difficult problem to think
              about right now because it's such a new
              problem," he said.

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