Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on June 1, 2009
When reading the first half of this book, this reviewer found it difficult at first to connect its subject matter with the title of the book. The expectation was that the book was going one devoted to genetic and metabolic engineering as applied to embryology. Instead the authors devote the first half to matters of paleontology and the art of fossil hunting. Readers eager to learn how to "build a dinosaur" may therefore get impatient with the authors, and may be tempted to put the book down and not go further.

This would be a mistake, since in the latter half of the book the authors get down to explaining what kind of techniques or knowledge may be necessary to produce a creature that for all practical purposes, i.e. in terms of its skeletal structure and general appearance would be a living dinosaur. Studying these pages is fascinating, and indeed gives one more reason for believing that if the authors or other biologists succeed in bringing this about, then this would be the most awesome feat in scientific and technological history.

What is most important about the author's proposals is that they are not dependent on having the genomes of long extinct dinosaurs. Instead, they seek to adjust the timing of the growth patterns that led to the evolution of birds from nonavian dinosaurs. This is to be done via the embryo of a domestic chicken. But changing the timing of metabolic and growth processes, this timing being regulated by genes, must respect what actually occurred in the evolutionary development of the bird from the dinosaur. Otherwise what results is a kind of "freak" that may be of interest in general but will not represent a genuine dinosaur of the kind that roamed the earth millions of years ago.

A small amount of space is devoted in the book to the ethics and dangers of this kind of effort. These discussions are important but did not convince this reviewer that the author's proposals should not be carried out. On the contrary, they should be done immediately without any mental reservation. Right now. Today.
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