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The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World: Or, How to Build a Dinosaur [Hardcover]

by Rob Desalle, David Lindley
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1997 0788159364 978-0788159367 First Edition
Could it really happen? Could modern scientists using cutting-edge laboratory techniques really clone living, breathing, hungry dinosaurs & populate a true-to-life Jurassic Park? This is a fun-filled romp to that outer edge where the science fiction of today is approaching the hard science of tomorrow. You ll explore the possibilities with two scientists intimately familiar with this world. A book that fans of Jurassic Park, The Lost World, & dinosaur devotees everywhere will relish. Includes fascinating facts & factoids -- even movie bloopers. Photos & drawings.

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Editorial Reviews Review

The premise of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and the Steven Spielberg movie that it spawned (along with its sequel, The Lost World) is simple enough. Scientists extract dinosaur DNA remnants lingering in the stomachs of insects entombed in amber for millions of years, reconstitute them into complete copies of dinosaur DNA, and then "grow" dinosaurs inside the lab. It sounds intuitively plausible--if far-fetched--but could it really work? In this fascinating book, Rob DeSalle and David Lindley explain in detail how scientists might attempt this painstaking task and the challenges they would face. In the process, they provide a running tutorial on the techniques of genetic engineering and play spoilsport to the occasional sloppy science of the Crichton and Spielberg works. The result is thoroughly entertaining yet simultaneously enlightening. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The best science fiction must be consistent with science fact. With the blockbuster status of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World (LJ 9/15/95), it is fair to ask, Could dinosaurs really be cloned from ancient DNA? DeSalle, an associate curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Lindley, an associate editor of Science News, do not have a definitive answer, but they do explore how it might possibly be done. The authors take a critical approach, questioning every premise and exposing presumptions. Copious references to events and characters in Crichton's books make familiarity with them a prerequisite. George and Roberta Poinar's Quest for Life in Amber (LJ 9/14/94) would be a better choice for anybody who hasn't read the book or seen the movie. Still, this book will benefit greatly from the tie-in to the forthcoming release of the film version of The Lost World and will be in demand at public libraries.?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788159364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788159367
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,871,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fantasy and Hope Behind a Would-be Live Dinosaur March 28, 2005
This book begins with a good overview of our understanding dinosaur biology. There is a description of how the notion of dinosaurs being stupid, lumbering, cold-blooded beasts has given way to the notion of them being at least partly warm-blooded. The discoveries of iridium by the Alvarez team, and how it has revolutionized our understanding of possible dinosaur extinction, is recounted.

The authors freely acknowledge that we know little about DNA. It is frozen in mammoths, but not in dinosaurs. They also acknowledge (p. 17, 42) that the idea of useable dinosaur blood inside an insect trapped in amber is conjecture. If nothing else, the digestive enzymes in an insect's stomach would probably pulverize the DNA long before an even prompt "amberization" could immobilize them. Any dinosaur DNA would almost certainly be broken into fragments, so it would be a Herculean task using overlapping segments to attempt to recreate the dinosaur's complete genome. Moreover, if the DNA was all cleaved in the same position, reassembly would be virtually impossible. Even if reconstructed, it would be challenging to get a dinosaur DNA to work together with, say, within ostrich cell.

However, more modest goals may be attainable in the foreseeable future. For instance, sections of dinosaur DNA may have discernable functions once implanted into the genomes of current organisms. Anything beyond that is farfetched by today's standards of knowledge.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explanations of the fundamental problems using Dino DNA September 4, 2003
"Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" are two movies that involve dinosaurs that have been recreated using advanced genetic engineering techniques. They are exciting and intense as the sight of the dinosaurs makes your heart race. Based on books by Michael Crichton, the engineering strategies used to develop the dinosaurs are explained in a great deal of detail. With all the advancements in genetic engineering, the obvious question to ask is, " Is it now possible to recreate dinosaurs?" The purpose of this book is to answer that question, and the explanations are very well done.
The primary focus is on the many problems of obtaining viable dinosaur DNA, properly sequencing it and getting it to reproduce in a viable manner. These problems are currently overwhelming and the authors explain it in a manner that requires at most the knowledge acquired in high school science classes.
What I liked most about the book is that the authors do not stop after explaining the problems with genetics. Other problems thoroughly discussed deal with difficulties such as the natural immunities that dinosaurs born in their natural habitat would have acquired but would no longer be available, what kind of foods that they would eat and how many dinosaurs could the islands really support. These are questions that would have created additional problems and collectively would have prevented a viable dinosaur ecology from being formed.
Fortunately, movies do not have to be based on solid science to be exciting. In this book you learn the holes in the science which formed the premise of the two movies. Well written and informative, it kept me interested from the first page to the last.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a review i did for school December 26, 2012
Over all I'd say this book was a good read, it wasn't as I expected, which was some book written by a buzz kill scientist ruining a cool movie, it actually explained how something like the cloning of dinosaurs could actually happen. In a way it made me feel like it was actually possible, which I suppose it could be (from an extremely radical perspective) but none the less, very doubtful. The tone and feel I received from the author and his writing skills were very welcoming in a way that made me want to keep reading, in many examples there were examples from the other books and movies being highlighted, which of course being a fan of the films, gained my interest. It did bring up a small plot whole in the movie though, how could they get a usable piece of dinosaur DNA from a mosquito that was trapped in ember for hundreds of thousands of years? The chances of someone finding a bug that was trapped just after it had its dino meal are extremely slim, and it might have not even have been from the dinosaur age, for all we know it could have been from the ice age or something else far more different than the age of dinosaurs. But I do suppose everything else that was explained from that point on made sense and can be viewed as possible. I am glad I read this book, and glad to say it was not the kind of read I was expecting (which is good).
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By A Customer
"First preheat your oven to 350 degrees". How many recipes have you seen have started with that familiar instruction? Consider: "Take a piece of amber containing an insect that lived in the the Jurassic along with the dinosaurs". That is what Michael Crichton had millions of us believe was the first step in his recipe for creating the dinosaurs in his book Jurassic Park. It sounded so logical and straightforward to the general reader that we all took it at face value that everything that Ingen Corporation's scientists did was correct. We then read on, never thinking to question the science again. Until now. It reminds one of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the screen and reveals the real wizard. We ignored the man behind the curtain until Rob DeSalle & David Lindley forced us to look beyond the smoke & mirrors. They have written an excellent "expose" on the errors of the dinosaur creation, but have done so in such a fun and enlightening way so as not to make the Wizard (aka M
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