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Cretaceous Park



>        From: larrys@zk3.dec.com : "Now, it seems to me that in, say, ten 
> years, we would be able to "read"
    a genetic code to determine what type of skeleton it encodes.  From 
this, it follows we will be able to encode a skeleton ourselves.  Given
that most organs adapt themselves to the skeleton rather than the other way
around, we might perform quite some feet of bioengineering on, say, an
elephant, without rendering it non-viable.  Once our skill extended to
organ shape and placement - again, staying away from esoterica like
behavioral genes - then we could mold the internals of an elephant, perhaps
even giving it organs from other species - like, say, a craw  from a bird,
located in front of the stomach.  The resulting creature partakes of mostly
elephantine traits, except where we have meddled. The creature is always
viable (except for real botches, of course, but the _line_ stretches back
to a "real" non-bioengineered elephant) but each generation would
incorporate new revisions of DNA, perhaps even including actual dinosaur
DNA, if enough can be reconstructed to be useful.  Could we not breed and
engineer such a creature into something that looks like, acts like, and
breeds true as, say, an apatosaur? "

        To stay in the field of bioengineering Cretaceous creatures, let me
tell you about an intriguing novelette published in the April 1994 issue of
"Asimov's Science Fiction", called "CRETACEOUS PARK" by Kandis Elliot,
where scientists manage to introduce some DNA from ants preserved in amber
in the genome of modern ants and re-create "Archaeomyrmex rex", the
meat-eating ant of the late Cretaceous. Maybe the technological step in
that case is smaller than for recreating dinosaurs "from scrap" or from big
mammals. It is Science-Fiction anyway.

        Herve Bocherens