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

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

by Jack Horner, James Gorman
     
 

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In movies, in novels, in comic strips, and on television, we've all seen dinosaurs—or at least somebody's educated guess of what they would look like. But what if it were possible to build, or grow, a real dinosaur without finding ancient DNA? Jack Horner, the scientist who advised Steven Spielberg on the blockbuster film Jurassic Park and a

Overview

In movies, in novels, in comic strips, and on television, we've all seen dinosaurs—or at least somebody's educated guess of what they would look like. But what if it were possible to build, or grow, a real dinosaur without finding ancient DNA? Jack Horner, the scientist who advised Steven Spielberg on the blockbuster film Jurassic Park and a pioneer in bringing paleontology into the twenty-first century, teams up with the editor of the New York Times's Science Times section to reveal exactly what's in store.

In the 1980s, Horner began using CAT scans to look inside fossilized dinosaur eggs, and he and his colleagues have been delving deeper ever since. At North Carolina State University, Mary Schweitzer has extracted fossil molecules—proteins that survived 68 million years—from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil excavated by Horner. These proteins show that T. rex and the modern chicken are kissing cousins. At McGill University, Hans Larsson is manipulating a chicken embryo to awaken the dinosaur within—starting by getting it to grow a tail and eventually prompting it to grow the forelimbs of a dinosaur. All of this is happening without changing a single gene.

This incredible research is leading to discoveries and applications so profound they're scary in the power they confer on humanity. How to Build a Dinosaur is a tour of the hot rocky deserts and air-conditioned laboratories at the forefront of this scientific revolution.

Editorial Reviews

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525951049
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/19/2009
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

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

Meet the Author

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

Patrick Lawlor has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in just about every genre. He has been an Audie Award finalist several times and has received several AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has won a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, numerous Library Journal and Kirkus starred audio reviews, and multiple Editors' Picks, Top 10, and Year's Best lists.

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