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Clones and administrivia

Jeff Poling suggests of the recent sheep cloning announcement:

>    IF, and I'm sure those who know will correct me, but IF using the
> egg from another species of animal wouldn't have worked,

More than likely Jeff is correct.  Thinking of DNA as a "template"
(e.g. a la Star Trek) is a bit overly simplisitic.  If you want to get
into some of the details of this sort of stuff, one place you might
look is:

 Author:         Buss, Leo W.
 Title:          The evolution of individuality / Leo W. Buss.  
 Published:      Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1987.

Some of it is kind of dated (e.g. he has a figure containing the
upside down version of _Hallucigenia_), but so far as I know, the
relevant developmental discussions are still apt (just lacking a
humongous amount of information more recently acquired about molecular
biology).  In any case, in a description of "maternal effects", Buss
points out that in the fruit fly (_Drosophila_), the nuclear DNA
doesn't get appreciably transcribed until after the 13th cell
division.  That means that all of the earliest events are driven by
mRNA transcribed from the mother's DNA and deposited in the cytoplasm
as the egg was formed.  I don't know as that anybody knows how much of
early mammalian development depends on such cytoplasmic endowments,
but it certainly isn't known how much early dinosaurian development
might have depended upon them.  In short, cloning dinosaurs would
require a lot more knowledge than we presently have, and some of that
knowledge might be unattainable to us.  For those that want to see if
they could outrun a _Tyrannosaurus_ I'm sorry!

Next topic: the Nova special.  I haven't yet seen it either because I
expect it to be broadcast again at 11:30 PM on Monday night when it
will be more convenient for me to catch it.  I encourage anyone who
missed it to look through your TV guides since in my experience it's
common for PBS affiliates to broadcast NOVA at least twice a week.

In case any of you were upset by the fact that it wasn't until today
that you got the message saying the show would be on "tonight" I'd
like to remind everyone about the current setup for the dinosaur list.
We have a message quota currently set at 50 messages per day for the
list.  Listproc counts anything received at "dinosaur@usc.edu" as part
of that quota, and unfortunately a lot of e-mail programs still
inappropriately bounce errors back to that address.  I've been
re-setting the list each day (sometimes as often as four times) when
there are a lot of error messages.  I've been trying to push messages
through as much as possible without allowing more than 50 messages to
actually get delivered.  Any residual overflow is held until midnight
when it gets counted as part of the next day's quota.  Such was the
fate of the message about last night's NOVA episode (and for all I
know it will be the fate of this message as well).

Since message throughput is at such a premium, I must again strongly
urge everyone to use restraint.  EVERY time you think of sending a
message to the list, ask yourself if you really think a) it's of
sufficient interest to all subscribers b) it hasn't already been said
and c) it's important enough that you won't feel bad if it causes the
delay of a timely message.  To hit an example, little things like
correcting wording of a previous message should fail without question
unless said corrections are included within a message containing other

Over the course of about two weeks after I stopped moderating the
list, the net number of subscribers dropped by about 5%.  Let's all
try to be good about not driving others away!  (As another example, if
the "Lost World" thread hasn't died yet, let's all let it.  Has
anything really new (and relevant to dinosaurs!!!) really been said in
that thread during the past 5 days?)

For my final segue, I'd like to note that several messages to the list
have contained quotes from messages that were sent via private e-mail.
PLEASE be careful not to quote such mail without explicit permission
from the author.  I was even the victim of this recently when I
responded to the "bring back the moderator!" thread.  My comments in
that thread were not intended for general consumption.  Since they
were broadcast, however, let me apologize to the Dinosaur Society for
any slight they may have perceived.  When I wrote "Don't expect a
quick response from them, though" I intended no disrespect.  I fully
appreciate that they are overworked, and I also appreciate very much
their willingness to take over the list.  That they haven't responded
immediately to much of my mail seems 100% forgivable since I'm not
telling them about urgent problems, and it's my belief that they're
spending their time pursuing worthwhile goals.  My comment was meant
only to prepare the individual to whom I was writing for the
likelihood that he wouldn't receive a prompt response.

Thanks for your attention!

Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)