Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Bring Back Dinosaurs

You may not realize this, but for years now I've been plotting to bring back the dinosaurs. Back in the 90's, things seemed hopeful with the whole "DNA in mosquitoes trapped in amber" ploy, as seen in Jurassic Park. But that idea was short lived, and for the last decade, it has seemed that the only way we would ever see dinosaurs would be with the aid of a time machine.

Cloning dinosaurs from preserved DNA may be an impossibility, but I have found another solution. Once again, I am determined to make the modern dinosaur into a reality. My solution has three steps.

1. Selective Breeding

Instead of searching for ancient preserved DNA and utilizing unreliable cloning techniques, why not breed back the dinosaurs from their modern equivalent; birds.

People have used selective breeding to "breed back" certain types of animals to their ancestral form.

The ancestors of modern domestic cattle, the aurochs, have been extinct for quite some time now. Through selective breeding, hex cattle has been bred in order to restore cattle to its original form.

The tamascan dog is a breed of canine which has had the ancestral wolf traits bred back into it (minus the wanting to eat you trait) without using wolves in the breeding. Now families can effectively own a wolf as the family dog without getting eaten, which is the drawback to owning standard wolves.

I figure that using selective breeding, I can breed back birds to a more primitive species, such as the archaeopteryx.

I will begin with the hoatzin, an ancient breed of bird which is still alive today. Hoatzin chicks have claws at the end of their wings, used for climbing, which they lose into adulthood. I will breed hoatzins for the ability to retain their claws longer into their lives, until I have a breed which maintains its claws throughout adulthood. I will also look for genetic anomolies, such as three claws rather than the standard two claws, and breed these traits into the species.

I will breed for other achaeopteryx-like traits, too. As well, I will include other bird species into the breeding mix which have other such needed traits. Eventually I will have a new species of archaeopteryx-like bird.

2. Gene Splicing

Now, breeding birds back to a primitive bird species is one thing, but breeding birds back to dinosaurs presents several problems. For one, there are several dinosaur traits that birds just don't have anymore.

Another major problem, is that dinosaurs are descended from reptiles and birds from dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are closely related to reptiles whereas our new species of bird is that much further removed from reptiles.

Obviously, we can't breed the reptile back into these animals, so we'll have to look to gene splicing. Using reptile species related to those which dinosaurs descended from, I will splice back those reptilian traits such as the long tail and the reptilian teeth.

Using a combination of selective breeding and gene splicing, I can take the archaeopteryx back to the pterosaurs and from there breed back to the raptors. From that point, I can breed back to many other species of dinosaur.

3. Dinosaur DNA

So, now we've created a species which is kind of related to the dinosaurs and has the same bone structure. But there's still one problem; they're not actually dinosaurs.

This is where we incorporate actual dinosaur DNA. Instead of looking for complete strands of DNA from which to clone a full fledged dinosaur, we can just use the DNA scraps that we find and splice that into the animals just like we did with the reptilian DNA. Now we have our new species of dinosaur.

So, the formula is:

selective avian breeding + reptilian gene splicing + dino DNA
= neo dinosaurs


Anonymous said...

cool stuff

:-) said...

You need wolf education. Wolves don't want to eat humans. That's ignorant to say.

J-Dubb said...

I KNEW someone was going to say that. Humans are such a predictable species.

Yes, I have known for many years that wolves don't TYPICALLY hunt for and consume humans. I was referring to the aggressive traits within canis lupus which have been breed out of the modern species of canis lupus familiaris. I'm well aware that these traits are unrelated to the type of meat consumed.

Wolves and wolf-hybrids which have been kept as pets have been known to be given to more aggression and are typically less safe, less trainable, and in need of greater precautions, than domestic breeds of dog. When I referred to the "wanting to eat you" trait, I was referring to a generalization, symbolizing a wolves atavistic traits. This is a commonly used form of symbology, as eating and mating are integral to the core of atavistic survival instincts. Instead of "atavistic aggression" I said "the wanting to eat you trait" as a comedic story-telling mechanism indented to make the point of the more domestic nature of the tamascan dog.

However, even though wolves don't generally hunt for human, a wolf is a wild predator. As atavistic instincts act out of necessity, it would be naive to assume that a wolf would, under no circumstances, eat a human.

If you'd like, I can point out a few other logical errors in this post, for instance: archaeopteryx is not agreed upon within the scientific community to be a bird, and in fact, existed in a totally different era prior to the initial forms of modern birds.

Also, I mentioned "breeding back to pterosaurs and eventually velocoraptors" when in fact pterosaurs are believed to be completely unrelated to birds, whereas velocoraptors are believed to be directly related to birds. This was another story-telling mechanism I chose, to create the visual of breeding back from birds to dinosaurs, in the minds of the general public who haven't made the study of evolutionary biology a hobby.

Anyways, thank you for pointing out my ignorance and need for "wolf education" in my blog post about dinosaurs.

Have a nice day.