Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to build a Dinosaur (the science of reverse evolution) by Jack Horman

Hello - I am a T-Rex....

What happens when Paleontology converges with Molecular Biology? Advances in molecular biology now allows us to make changes to the genetic code - the 'language of life'. Paleontology gives us glimpses of extinct animals. The authors of this book challenges the reader to consider the possibility of changing the genome of an existing embryo say that of a chicken and enticing it to 'remember' its past and develop characteristics of its ancestors - such as teeth, tail etc. And since birds are descendent from Dinosaurs, theoretically you can now go back in time step by step and slowly but surely create a Dinosaur.

It is an intriguing concept and the authors do an excellent job of asking the right questions - can we do it? should we do it? what are the benefits? What are the disadvantages? The book also covers the basic science very well and in simple terms explains the principles involved.

The title of the book is slightly misleading since we are far away from actually being able to create a Dinosaur. Many challenges still remain but the possibility of being able to do this in the next 10 to 20 years is very real. More importantly the book will give the reader a better idea of the various possibilities, that a proper understanding of the genetic code will provide humanity.