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Thread: Could we engineer a dinosaur out of a bird?

  1. #1 Could we engineer a dinosaur out of a bird? 
    Forum Professor mmatt9876's Avatar
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    I was just wondering if it would be possible to genetically engineer a dinosaur out of a bird, perhaps with a little dinosaur DNA from a fossil. Birds supposedly evolved out of dinosaurs, right.


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    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    as with the attempts to clone Mammoths, what you would end up with is a scaly animal that may look like a dinosaur but will still for, all practical behavioral purposes, be a bird. A lot of what makes an animal an animal is the learned and innate behaviors, which are now lost.

    I think the major technical stumbling block is the lack or saurian DNA to work with. There have been several reports of DNA recovery over the past 20 years , but all have been met with skepticism. The Jurassic Park method of extraction from amber doesn't work either. The correct age amber's are not common, the organic material is too degraded, and when little is extracted would be a mix of the insect and the meal.


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I think you are being unduly pessimistic. I know this an area in which you have genuine expertise, but consider these points.

    Our analytical abilities are expanding rapidly, like a Moore's Law for genome interpretation. At some point we will be able to make reasonable deductions as to what genes have changed from bird to dinosaur and in what way and thereby reconstruct the original gene pattern or one pretty damn close to it.

    Moreover, you mention the innate behaviours - well innate is in the genes. And if we use bird DNA as our starting point then some of the genes we don't change are likely ones responsible for those behaviours. I still start at a loud noise, just like my Triassic ancestors.

    When can we do it? October 1932. The first Thursday of the month.
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    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    as with the attempts to clone Mammoths, what you would end up with is a scaly animal that may look like a dinosaur but will still for, all practical behavioral purposes, be a bird.
    Birds are a subset of dinosaurs though... so it's certainly a much smarter starting point than, for example, Michael Crichton's notions on amphibians. That said, it's not difficult to be smarter than Michael Crichton, or dodgy pop science novels in general.
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    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    as with the attempts to clone Mammoths, what you would end up with is a scaly animal that may look like a dinosaur but will still for, all practical behavioral purposes, be a bird.
    Paleontologist Jack Horner seems pretty confident about our ability to reverse engineer a dinosaur like creature from a bird. Its all about finding the right genes. According to a presentation by Horner that I attended "Inside the egg, birds grow a tail, but certain genes cause them to reabsorb it, they also grow hands(for lack of better term), but genes then cause that to fuse into a wing." Now I know this wouldn't be a true Dinosaur, but having your own chickenasaurus would be pretty freaking awesome.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    Forum Senior Kukhri's Avatar
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    Dollo's Law of Irreversibility says that it's very unlikely to redevelop a lost trait in exactly the same way it once was. Once you start down the avian path, you can never fully return.
    Co-producer of Red Oasis
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