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Feb. 22nd, 2008

So last week, Discovery Channel aired a show called "Dinosaurs Return to Life." I, being an uber geek and ridiculously huge Jurassic Park fan, scheduled my TiVo to record it immediately after seeing the commercial.

Anyway, it was really interesting (and if you can catch it in a reair, I'd recommend it).

It was far less about engineering dinosaurs of the past and far more about the genetic similarities and make up of birds and dinosaurs. They looked specifically at controlling certain genes in birds to give a longer tail and teeth (because the genes to do so are in the DNA, they are just dormant until provoked by enzymes, proteins or whatever...I'm no expert). So the scientists stimulated the dormant genes at a certain time and noted teeth or tail developing in the embryo (essentially, making mutants out of them).

They theorized that they could also replace the feathers with scales and wings with hands.

While they wouldn't be able to make a raptor or anything like that, they could engineer an emu to have dinosaur qualities and it would resemble actual dinosaurs from 70 million years ago.

Crazy.

But it got me thinking about genetic mutation and what they could do for human subjects (something I doubt they would try anytime within this century), but could they give us tails? Or opposable toe-thumbs...so we can use our feet like hands? It's in our genes.

And that brings up a lot of questions about mutations and genes and DNA.

As a side note (and I'd delve more into it later when I have the time). while one scientist predicted that an engineered dinosaur/bird thing might be possible in 50 years, I have some serious doubts that human civilization will still be around in 50 years. Honestly.

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