Monday, August 10, 2015

REVERSE EVOLUTION: On Becoming a Dino-Chicken

Although it's been firmly proven that birds evolved from dinosaurs, we don't know exactly how it all happened, especially when it took place over an unimaginably long period of time. Recently scientists were able to better understand how the snout of a flying dinosaur became a  beak found in thousands of birds on earth. By turning off the gene expression that is the set of instructions for a chicken embryo to build a beak, the Yale and Harvard scientists were able to have the embryo build what resembled the snout of a giant prehistoric Velocitoraptor.

"Our goal here was to understand the molecular underpinnings of an important evolutionary transition," one of the Yale scientists involved in the project said in a statement, "not to create a 'dino-chicken' simply for the sake of it."

Having the understanding of the molecular underpinnings does, however, teach a great deal about how to make new animal. The book How to Build a Dinosaur: The New Science of Reverse Evolution by noted paleontologist Jack Horner (with New York Times science columnist, James Gorman) makes no secret of where reverse evolution leads. The publisher's blurb on Amazon summarizes the book's content:

 "A scientific adviser for the film Jurassic Park evaluates the potential for artificially growing a real dinosaur without ancient DNA discussing the relationships between dinosaurs and birds and how it may be possible to stimulate latent tyrannosaurus rex."

All of which brings us to the subject of humans. In the novel Bert's in-vitro fertilization resulted in a unique monkey gene being inserted into his DNA. The legal system wonders if he is a human person who can be prosecuted and not some lesser creature. Bert worries if he is the first human to ever have measurably reversed the ascent of man, appearing to be moving forward as a human but in fact moonwalking backwards into the two and four-legged apes following behind. 

And what next? If the new science of reverse evolution is taught in the schools, will there be those who insist that "Reverse Creationism" also be taught, i.e., the disassembly of the universe piece by piece in an effort to recreate a massive, Ikea-inspired set of assembly instructions so complex and so utterly unfathomable that it proves only one Creator could have put the whole shebang together in the first place?