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Nothing is so dangerous that it can't be talked about.

On Thu, 27 Feb 1997 21:53:15 -0600 Joe Daniel <jdaniel@aristotle.net>
writes:>DNA can so be thought of as a template and yes, if we could get
genetic code for dinosaurs, there is no reason why, theoretically, we
couldn't bring them back. >Concur.  The problems I see are:1) Can we get
enough Dino DNA to have a full template so that the embryo will develop
normally?  Getting complete DNA to survive 65+ million years is a lot to
ask.  Anyone know the oldest DNA fragment found so far?2) Which animal
will be chosen as the "donor" cell?  Remember, this was a sheep DNA from
an adult udder cell fused to a denucleated sheep embryo cell.  Which
embryo would have the cellular components necessary to give the dino DNA
the best chance to actually develop fully?  We would have to sequence the
dino DNA first, then see what animal's DNA would be the closest.  THEN we
would have to incubate the egg (if it's an egg-laying critter).  How
would we know the correct humidity and temperature for that one? Just ask
any one who has tried raising exotic birds in captivity and they'll tell
you this is very difficult.  But not impossible.3) What if it turns out
that the dinosaur in question had a shark-like live birth arrangement,
where not only is the egg retained in the mother's body, but there is a
placenta-like organ and maternal nourishment?  Then I'd say it would be
pretty dicey to go to full term in any donor animal without the mother
rejecting the embryo, thus closer to impossible to achieve.The ethical
problems are another ball of wax.  Let's get away from JP for a moment: a
cloned dinosaur would be an exciting thing to study.  But to get any idea
about behavior, we'd really need to make a whole herd of them.  And are
we really prepared to bring back a dinosaur?  Aside from the security
aspect of penning one, once we have it, how do we protect it from today's
microorganisms that may prove fatal?  Would it have to be put in a
bubble?  And what do we feed it?  Would it be allergic to today's plants
or animal flesh?  Don't even get started on what some animal rights
activists would say about it!
Just a few things to get us thinking.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate
Virginia Living Museum