Dinosaurs! WHAT?!June 15, 2008
So, I was digging around…Digg, and found this crazy article.
This is a pretty long article so make sure you’re ready for a sit down session. I’ll quote some highlights.
OK. So, I’m sure most of us have seen Jurassic Park. Awesome movie. Now, imagine that, but in real life. WHAT?!
Apparently scientists have discovered a way to take chicken DNA, which are believed to be descendant’s of the Velociraptor, and “back track” it. Meaning, they can essentially rewind the chicken’s DNA, and the scientists can make these simple chickens grow teeth and tails. TEETH AND TAILS.
Here are some excerpts:
It poses the question: will scientists ever be able to resurrect the dinosaur?
According to Jack Horner, professor of palaeontology at Montana State University, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
He says: ‘Of course we can bring them back to life. Their ancestral DNA is still present.
‘The science is there. I don’t think there are any barriers, other than the philosophical.’
Screw philosophy, says I. Bring back the Dinos!
Horner, who acted as an advisor on the Jurassic Park films, made a remarkable discovery while his team were excavating a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in Montana.
The site was so remote, the skeleton had to be removed by helicopter — the operation led to a huge thighbone splitting in two.
Horner gave a piece of the bone to one of his students, palaeontologist Mary Schweitzer.
Examining it, she noticed a strange structure inside the hard outer case.
It resembled a pattern found only in the bones of pregnant birds.
Puzzled, she asked her research assistant, Jennifer Wittmeyer, to dissolve the outer mineral layer.
Six hours later, there was a knock on the door.
‘Jennifer ran into the room saying, “You’re not going to believe this,”’ recalls Schweitzer.
‘When she picked up a small piece, it stretched and moved all over the place.
‘So we knew we had something pretty unusual.’
The magnitude of the discovery was immediately apparent to the Montana University team — the material appeared to be well preserved flesh from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Horner says: ‘It’s unimaginable to find soft tissue. It was just assumed that everything had been fossilised.’
More extraordinary yet, was the next find in neighbouring parts of the dinosaur bone.
‘Out popped the blood vessels,’ says Schweitzer.
In the 1990s, scientists discovered dinosaurs in China buried in a fine ash.
They were preserved in remarkable detail and bird-like features, including claws and feathers, were recognisable.
Horner believes that a modern bird’s DNA contains a genetic memory that could be ‘switched on’ again, resurrecting long-dormant dinosaur traits.
To make such a creature, 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.
Larsson decided to move from theory to reality.
He wanted to see if he could make a chicken grow a dinosaur’s tail, turning the clock back millions of years.
Manipulating the genetic make-up, he was able to extend the tail by a further three vertebrae.
Larsson had pinpointed a method for turning on dormant dinosaur genes.
If birds retained a dormant tail imprint, did they still retain a memory of dinosaur teeth?
In 2005, Matt Harris and John Fallon, developmental biologists at the University of Wisconsin, noticed something strange while researching mutant chickens.
Harris says: ‘Looking at an embryonic 14-day-old head, I came across the beak and these structures that were not supposed to be there.’
Could they really be teeth? Peeling away the beak in this tiny, mutant bird, the academics revealed sabreshaped formations almost identical to embryonic alligator teeth.
Click on the top link if you want a more detailed read. This is seriously fricken’ mind blowing. Apparently the technology to build a full fledged T-Rex is still a hundred years away, but with how far the scientists have come, we may actually see a miniature Dino in our life time!
A mini triceratops pet? YES PLEASE.