How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever

Overview

"Jurassic Park thrilled millions of people with its fictional story of re-creating dinosaurs by harvesting ancient DNA. Now, over a decade later, Jack Horner and his colleagues in molecular biology labs are poised to create a real dinosaur based on the latest breakthroughs - without using prehistoric DNA." "The project is based on new research in evolutionary developmental biology (or evo-devo) into how a few cells grow to create arms, legs, eyes, and brains all functioning together, and how changes in that growth can drive evolution. Jack Horner ...
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Overview

"Jurassic Park thrilled millions of people with its fictional story of re-creating dinosaurs by harvesting ancient DNA. Now, over a decade later, Jack Horner and his colleagues in molecular biology labs are poised to create a real dinosaur based on the latest breakthroughs - without using prehistoric DNA." "The project is based on new research in evolutionary developmental biology (or evo-devo) into how a few cells grow to create arms, legs, eyes, and brains all functioning together, and how changes in that growth can drive evolution. Jack Horner takes the science a step further in a plan to "reverse evolution" and reveals the awesome, even frightening power we are now acquiring to re-create the prehistoric past. The mystery ingredient in this recreation is the genetic code for building dinosaurs that lives on in modern birds, even chickens. So how do you build a dinosaur? One way is to start with a simple chicken egg, and biochemically nudge the embryo this way and that until what hatches has a tail, teeth, and forearms instead of wings. Behold: Chickenosaurus." As Horner and scientists around the world pursue the fundamental questions about biology thrown up by this new potential, extremely valuable practical benefits are appearing on the horizon. For instance, the growth of the tail is tied into the growth of the spinal cord, and as we all know, spinal cord birth defects in humans can be a devastating family misfortune. Learning more about what starts and stops tail growth holds open the promise of solutions to some of the most heartbreaking human birth defects.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Despite its title, this book is not a guide to building a model of a dinosaur. MacArthur Award–winning paleontologist Jack Horner is interested in growing a living, breathing T. rex from a manipulated chicken embryo. In How to Build a Dinosaur, he explains the science and reasoning behind this ambitious project and describes what it will tell us about the history of evolution.
Publishers Weekly

The premise of this provocative but frustrating book by MacArthur Award-winning paleontologist Horner and New York Times deputy science editor Gorman (coauthors of Digging Dinosaurs) : a kind of reverse genetic engineering could make it possible to " build" a dinosaur embryo from the embryo of a modern bird-a chicken, say- since birds are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs. The trick would involve the new science of evolutionary development (known as evo devo) and a host of biological techniques. Horner and Gorman argue that during the process, one could stop and analyze every frame of the evolutionary tape as it played in reverse. The authors use the research on tail development of Hans Larsson at McGill University to explore how embryos can illuminate evolution. Much of the rest of the book offers background, but often digresses, for example, into hunting for DNA from 68-million-year-old dinosaur bones or the surfing habit of the man who discovered the polymerase chain reaction or how genetically close humans and Neanderthals are-none of which advances the book's central argument. B&w illus. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Paleontologist Horner and New York Times science editor Gorman, who have coauthored two previous books on dinosaurs, here explore the possibility of re-creating a dinosaur from a genetic code residing in the modern-day chicken. The authors cover highly technical scientific fields in a manner accessible to lay audiences, who will be captivated by Audie Award nominee Patrick Lawlor's (The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell) Mr. Wizard-like zeal. This nicely updates Rob Desalle's and David Lindley's The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World and will appeal to fans of Stephen Jay Gould's works on natural history and David Attenborough's popular titles. [The Dutton hc was deemed "a readable account of innovative science…sure to appeal to dinosaur fans," LJ 2/15/09.—Ed.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
From the Publisher
"The authors cover highly technical scientific fields in a manner accessible to lay audiences, who will be captivated by Audie Award nominee Patrick Lawlor's Mr. Wizard-like zeal." —-Library Journal Audio Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525951049
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/19/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


James Gorman is deputy science editor of the New York Times and editor of its Science Times section.

Jack Horner is a regents professor of paleontology at Montana State University and the author or coauthor of several books on dinosaurs.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist, Patrick Lawlor is also an accomplished stage actor.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Hell Creek: Time, Space, and Digging to the Past 16

2 It's a Girl!: A Pregnancy Test for T-Rex 57

3 Molecules Are Fossils Too: Biological Secrets in Ancient Bones 85

4 Dinosaurs Among Us Chickens and Other Cousins of T-Rex 114

5 Where Babies Come from: Ancestors in the Egg 133

6 Wag the Bird: The Shrinking Backbone 165

7 Reverse Evolution: Experimenting With Extinction 192

Appendix Chickenosaurus Skeleton 215

Bibliography 219

Acknowledgments 229

Index 231

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Tantalizing Eye Into the Past

    Renowned paleontologist, Jack Horner, and James Gorman, deputy science editor of The New York Times, have written a profound book in How to Build A Dinosaur. Rather than zeroing in on ancient dinosaur DNA, Horner and his colleagues instead focus on evolutionary development, or "evo-devo", as they term it.

    We know that the embryos of multiple creatures develop in a similar fashion, for a time featuring arm and beg buds as well as tails. Assuming that dinosaurs evolved in a similar manner, Jack Horner contends that it might be possible to reverse evolution from the embryo of a modern chicken. Such a massive step is controversial to be sure, but the benefits of manipulating genes at just the right point in development might very well assist us in resolving spinal chord problems and other birth defects in humans today.

    Jack Horner cites to some of the great fossil discoveries of the past, as well as current research involving exploration of past life forms on a molecular level. This book is an excellent bridge between paleontology and cutting edge technology. How to Build A Dinosaur is the marriage of two types of investigations in our continual search for the answers to the questions of evolution, selection and the tantalizing prospect of some day generating a living, breathing dinosaur. Perhaps, in the process, we can learn a little more about our own development and our place in this ever changing world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Fine Book

    This book was very interesting, and taught me a lot of facts, but it didn't always stay on the main subject. This book tended to stray of track A LOT. And also, they don't even tell you the steps that they will use. It just moves on from describing one bodypart to another. But still, it taught me a lot more about dinosaurs than I ever knew.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Extremely thought provoking.

    A fantastic read, I would most certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested in biology, paleontology, evolution, or good science in general. I cannot wait to see what comes of the research mentioned here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    How to build a dinosaur

    This was a great read I enjoyed it. The idea behind the book is amazing and would be truely interesting if a dinosaur was ever truely recreated

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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