Tuesday 31 March 2009

Plan to re-produce dinosaurs ala Jurrassic Park


Courtesy Phil Wilson

Who needs dino DNA? A few tweaks to a chick embryo may be all it takes to grow a chickenosaur (left) that resembles and early raptor (right).

The goal, in the end, would be to steer the embryo down the path it would have gone if it were something like a very early coelurosaur, a dinosaur grouping that counts tyrannosaurs and velociraptors among its members. If the genes in the chick embryo are very close to those of an ancestral, nonavian dinosaur—and if the changes, over more than 150 million years, have been almost all in regulation of the genes—then we could reactivate the old pattern of regulation.

We don’t have to give the embryo new genes, just adjust the growth factors and other chemicals that direct development. And by doing that we can see what must have changed during evolution, and what the old pattern of regulation was. If we learn enough, this will give us enormous insight into the fundamentals of biology, development, and evolution. It will also be the first step in growing a dinosaur.See rest of stort here:


News of attempts under way to grow dinosaurs seem more feasible each day.Lets hope they heed the warnings in Jurrassic park :-)

Monday 30 March 2009

The Kraken perhaps?



March 19, 2009—It's about as unlikely as capturing a "fossil sneeze," but researchers have found the second known set of octopus fossils, a new study says.

The five well-preserved fossils were found in 95-million-year-old rocks in Lebanon.

The specimens represent three new species of ancient octopus, study lead author Dirk Fuchs of the Freie Universität Berlin said in a statement.

For each animal, all eight arms, traces of muscle, and rows of suckers are visible, and a few of the fossils even contain remnants of ink and internal gills.

With boneless bodies made mostly of muscle and skin, octopuses usually disintegrate into "slimy blobs" after death—making preservation over time extremely rare, experts say.

While none of the 200 to 300 modern octopus species have been found in fossil form, the ancient creatures look indistinguishable from living species, Fuchs and colleagues note.

The fossils' unprecedented detail has shaken up the octopus family tree.

That's because primitive octopus relatives had fleshy fins along their bodies, said Fuchs, whose study appeared in March in the journal Palaeontology.

But the newfound fossils, like modern octopuses, lack these fins, a discovery that pushes back the origins of modern octopuses by tens of millions of years.

—Christine Dell'Amore

Pictures courtesy Dr. Dirk Fuchs, Freie Universaet Berlin