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At 15:47 -0800 19/2/97, Jonathon Woolf wrote:

>> Having said all that, if the dinosaurs get mad cow disease, like they
>> did in the book... I _will_ be sick.
>This comment I'm not sure I understand.  Prion diseases can be
>transmitted by consuming infected tissue.  They can affect animals as
>different as humans and cows.  What's impossible or unbelievable about a
>prion disease that afflicts dinosaurs?

I've have very little problem with the idea of dinosaurs suffering from
Prion diseases.  Prion diseases seem to affect a small percentage of the
populations of an enormous range of extant animals - including birds.
Depending on when these diseases first occurred (something we can really
never know) it may be almost inevitable that dinosaurs suffered from Prion

Consider however, that there is not yet much (if any) evidence that Prion
diseases can, or need to, cross species boundaries.  Even if they do there
is no evidence that they affect more than a small percentage of the
population of the new species.

Only when an animal is brought into contact with offal or brain tissue
from its *own* species does the disease start to affect large proportions
of the population.

And yet here we have dinosaurs catching prion diseases from eating
bits of chickens and *all* the dinosaurs are dying from it.

*That* is, in my opinion, stretching disbelief to dizzy new heights.

Crichton did what he always does and (in an incredibly prescient fashion)
takes the next popular fear (reactor meltdown, nasty bugs mutating, the
japanese corporate conspiracy) and incorporates it into his books
without really understanding it - thus taking on exactly the position
of using knowledge gained without effort that he accuses scientists
in general of falling prey too.

Derek Tearne.   ---   @URL Internet Consultants  ---  http://url.co.nz
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.