[ExI] How to Build a Dinosaur

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Mon Apr 13 23:57:10 UTC 2009

On Mon, 13 Apr 2009, Dan wrote:

> --- On Mon, 4/13/09, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl> wrote:
> > On Sat, 11 Apr 2009, spike wrote:
> > 
> > >  
> > > On Behalf Of John Grigg
> > >     Subject: Re: [ExI] How to Build a
> > Dinosaur
> > >     
> > >     
> > >     I remember a discussion started
> > here by Robert Bradbury about
> > > building a fire-breathing dragon.  Spike, do you
> > remember that?  Those were
> > > the days...
> > 
> > Guys,
> > 
> > If you please, build Laura Dern instead. Dinos stink and
> > they look ugly, 
> > no matter if they smile or not.
> Have you actually sniffed and seen one?  If so, quick!  Please relate 
> your experiences to the nearest paleontologist...  :)

Their ugly looks is obvious to me from what I've seen in books and 
"Jurassic Park(s)". :-) But this may be just some strange personal taste 
of mine. As of their smell, my experiences with animals suggest that they 
don't smell like perfume (but ok, they not always stink). I don't remember 
sniffing crocodiles or snakes, so maybe they are nice. I just expect that 
t-rex breathe would either kill me or put into deep sleep, enough to make 
me indifferent to being eaten alive (they now say t-rex were just 
scavengers, but I doubt they would object a small appetiser like me).

> > If only scientists were less disconnected. What kind of fun
> > it is, anyway, 
> > to have dino at home? Sounds like some perverted SM stuff.
> Actually, the book is about evo-devo and the experiment, were it tried, 
> would tell us more about gene expression in development than dinosaurs.  

Ok, I don't know enough about this to make any meaningful remarks. 
Without reading the book, it could be difficult to discuss it. However...

> At best, assuming that turning on earlier traits (and turning off later 
> traits) is possible, it would just cook up a bird ancestor -- or, more 
> precisely, some bird ancestor traits.  (I put "some" here because, from 
> listening to the book, he's focusing on specific traits.  And it's 
> likely that the full suite of things that make up a bird ancestor are 
> lost at this time.  He seems to discount dino-DNA finds as not being as 
> helpful as doing evo-devo.  My view is you could do both.  There'd still 
> be limits and it's arguable that you're not really making a dinosaur -- 
> even a bird ancestor -- but merely, at best, turning on some ancestor 
> traits and making some sort of weird hybrid.)

Probably so. To me, it looks like "simply" fiddling with genes to see what 
comes out of the box. Personally, I would really like this kind of 
research to be done via the means of computer simulation. Maybe some day.

Birds, there are some really clever genera (hopefully plural used is ok 
:-) ) amongst them. I am not sure, if playing with their genes is really 
safe and can be controlled as well as it should. Not that I expect some 
diabolic offspring of this experiment to turn against humanity (sure, this 
could make a good f/x loaded film). But I would rather play it safe.

> Anyhow, I do agree with the author: the experiment would stir up more 
> talk about evolution.

Maybe they should try it on bacteria or yeasts first (shorter genome, but 
it doesn't look as well on a book cover as dinosaurs). Maybe playing with 
ape's genes could tell us even more things, and more relevant to 
ourselves? Not that I know what I'm saying. Maybe I will have time to try 
and read something about the subject.

>  My guess, though, is that Biblical literalists 
> and other anti-evolutionists would merely say this is evidence that 
> dinosaurs were not ancient extinct animals, but merely birds (or other 
> extant animals) whose development got messed up. > 

People seem to be very creative when it comes for finding bad (or/and 
lacking logical reasoning) ways of using their brain.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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