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RE: "Dinosaurs: Return To Life? "



--- Lonnie Allen Matson
<lonniematson@paleobiologist.org> schrieb:

> I was very interested to see the tail vertebrae in
> the chicken. While, obviously, there is much more to
> this reverse engineering idea than was revealed, it
> was good to see that the material is already there,
> genetically, and anatomically. It just needs to be
> manipulated to appear once more in a living
> specimen. Not impossible, but highly in-depth.

"Not impossible" in a theoretical way maybe. In real
life, the air-sac system is about as impossible to
revert as it gets. The entire trunk anatomy would need
to be rebuilt. Birds have probably burned more
developmental genetics bridges behind them than any
other terrestrial vertebrate; sometimes genetic
systems will adapt in a way that makes the
plesiomorphic condition unrecoverable (or rather, make
the effort needed to recover it about the same as to
build it from scratch)

Feathers and teeth and tails are actually the easiest
bit. These have only be slightly modified, or their
pathways have been interrupted but still persist
(teeth). The devil's in the details. The one cubic
centimeter or so of inner ear alone will probably be
harder than teeth, tails and integument combined.

Turning a human into a _Volaticotherium_ would
probably be easier.

As a simple rule for wholesale genetic tweaking: if we
can't do it with plants, we can't do it with animals.
Plant genomes are extremely forgiving. As a kid I had
fun polyploidizing my bryophyllums (pretty gross but
entirely viable), UV-inducing mutations in my coleus
(everyone should have tried that, it's fun), and doing
viral gene transfer experiments in tulips (they didn't
survive many years but they sure were pretty).


Regards,

Eike


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