Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jack Horner: Building a Dinosaur from Chicken DNA

Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to bring back the dinosaur. According to his TED talk, we're actually getting closer to making Jurassic Park a reality. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking chicken DNA, saying it is a living descendant of the dinosaur, and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus"  he says.

One of the problems with this study is that the chicken isn't a descendant of the dinosaur. This theory originally came from Thomas Henry Huxley, who supported the Darwin's Theory of Evolution. He compared the skeletal structure and several similarities, added the theory of evolution, got other scientists to agree with him, and from there it gained acceptance from the scientific community.[1]

In this CBS 60 Minutes video, Lesley Stahl meets Jack Horner, and they talk about how his ideas are shaking up the paleontology world.

(CBS link)

I don't think I want to be around when their experiment gets to be full-sized.