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Making A Dinosaur
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That Ain't No Chicken

A Red Jungle Fowl (Galla galla), an ancestor of domestic chickens

Why It Matters

There's More Than One Way To Make A Dinosaur

The movie and novel Jurassic Park set people's mind a flutter with possibilities. Dinosaurs! Cloned dinosaurs from ancient DNA! How cool is that! Unfortunately, science has poured some cold water on this cool idea. It seems DNA doesn't stick around for millions of years, even under the best conditions it seems to be readable for only around 1.5 million years. Not much use in trying to bring back animals that disappeared over 65 million years ago. Read this article to find out more. *http://www.nature.com/news/dna-has-a-521-year-half-life-1.11555

But all is not lost for those hoping for the dinosaurs return. Actually, as some of you know, they never really went away. Oh, the Age of the Dinosaurs ended and with it their world dominance, and most of them certainly disappeared. But some survived...we call them birds, and scientists like Jack Horner think they may be key to some very interesting science.

Explore More

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What appears to be the main culprit in the degradation of DNA? Given this situation, if you were looking for an area with maximum preservation potential, where would you look?
  2. What does half-life mean? Where else have you heard this term used?
  3. How do the behaviors of dinosaurs that Jack Horner and his colleagues have figured out compare to the behavior of birds we know today? Do you see any evidence that could be used to argue birds are not dinosaurs?
  4. What are osteocytes? What do they do in vertebrates?
  5. What is transgenesis? Do you think it could be used to bring back dinosaurs? Explain your reasoning as fully as possible.

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