Jurassic Park 2.0?

Recently, scientists have found ways to slightly modify genes. This works with the help of a new technology called CRISPR. Now I am no scientist, but basically what this gene modifying means is that we could, potentially, end genetic diseases, alter ecology, transform food and ‘edit’ human DNA (National Geographic).  It is fascinating that we have the technology to do that BUT HAVE YOU EVER SEEN JURASSIC PARK?!If you’ve never seen the movie, first of all, you should. Secondly, here’s a quick summary of what happens.

  • Scientists figure out how to modify genes.
  • Scientists find incomplete dinosaur DNA
  • Scientists use their new gene technology to fill in the gaps of dinosaur gene with a descendant of dinosaurs
  • Dinosaurs come alive, all is going relatively well
  • DINOSAURS ESCAPE ENCLOSURE
  • Small children are endangered
  • DINOSAURS GET VERY WILD
  • IT IS DANGEROUS AND BAD

Here’s a video explaining how the gene-modifying works

So really, we now have the technology to make Jurassic park actually happen. But this brings up the ethical question: should we?

On the surface, it seems like a relatively easy question to answer. Yes. This technology has the power to save and better lives. CRISPR could change the way we currently see the world and its challenges. Using this technology is risky though. Not only could it negatively affect the world around us, but it also kind of makes you wonder ‘who gave us the right to do this’? Sure viruses like Zika and AIDS would be great if we could completely eliminate them, but (and I don’t mean to sound like a senior, mad about the use of cellphones here) has technology come too far? If we begin to use this technology for good who knows what bad could happen?!

Hear me out here: In Jurassic Park, it all started out good. Scientists just wanted to learn about dinosaurs. Yay knowledge! But then they got too confident with their skills and created a wild unstoppable dinosaur. Really, the same thing could happen here. We could start out by only modifying genes to save lives, but next thing you know we could be modifying them so all babies have pretty blue eyes and lungs strong enough to run six marathons.

This new technology has an abundance of important healthcare uses, but with the ethical dilemmas we have to consider, is it really worth it? Comment below your opinions! Do you think the benefits of the CRISPR technology outweighs the risks?

Sources:

National Geographic Gene Editing article: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/dna-crispr-gene-editing-science-ethics/

Image: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7029/6398268627_ebcf5f758d_b.jpg

 

Kanye West: The T-Rex of the 21st Century

Think of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. These ferocious beasts are often stereotyped. People think of them as the scariest, biggest beasts of the Jurassic world. In reality, the T-Rex lived during the cretaceous period and was ~40 feet long, or, about the size of a bus (nationalgeographic.com). The longest dinosaur, however, was the Supersaurus vivianae which measured about 111 feet. (bbc.com)

Now let’s talk about Kanye West. He has been stereotyped for years as an unintelligent musician. Untalented, unwise and, essentially, annoying. To the general public, Kanye West takes up valuable space that could be used for another, more talented, artist. Let’s be honest though: Kanye West is accomplished and skillful.

West is committed to his career. He’s produced songs like Alicia Keys “You Don’t Know My Name”, and Mariah Carey “Stay the Night”, among many other hits (Rolling Stone). He is an entrepreneur, a recording artist, and a fashion designer. West is known for using the human voice as a tool. Listen to any of his music – from “Gold Digger” to “Jesus Walks” to “FourFiveSeconds”- West has recorded a variety of music that highlights the beauty of the human voice.  “Jesus Walks” encapsulates the beauty of Kanye West as an artist.

West’s debut fashion line pushes the limits. As an entrepreneur, he takes risks. He is so insanely devoted to his career that he recorded an album with a broken jaw. Kanye West is not only dedicated to his career – he also finds time to spend with his wife Kim Kardashian West and his children North West and Saint West. Kanye is a phenomenal family man and working man, and is stereotyped as a typical unintelligent rapper.

Similarly, the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s good qualities often go unnoticed. They are often seen as disruptive and scary to the public eye. Kanye West and the T-Rex, however, both had roles to play in society and both changed the way people (or dinosaurs) around them acted. Kayne inciting laughter at his often ridiculous persona and the T-Rex inciting fear at the smaller creatures around it.

Sources:

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/prehistoric/tyrannosaurus-rex/

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160201-meet-the-most-massive-dinosaur-to-ever-stomp-the-earth

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/20-songs-you-didnt-know-kanye-west-produced-20160411/petey-pablo-i-swear-2004-20160410

http://www.axs.com/the-10-best-kanye-west-songs-29277

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Kanye_West_in_the_Studio.jpg

Are You Smarter Than a Dinosaur?

As humans, we tend to think of ourselves as the brightest of the bunch, and for living mammals that may be the case – but what about dinosaurs? Are we genuinely smarter than them? Some recently discovered fossilized brain tissue may help solve the mystery.

In Sussex, England (2004) they discovered a small lump of what proved to be a dinosaur brain. (nationalgeographic.com). Here is a video explaining what this means for future research, and how they plan to preserve the brain:

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Now that’s all well and dandy but we still haven’t answered our question: are you smarter than a dinosaur? One of the things that make humans so intelligent is the size of our brain compared to our bodies. Dinosaurs, unfortunately, usually had pretty small brains compared to their bodies. They also only had to be smart enough to survive in the world they were living in, so to say, they only had to be smart enough to get food. According to Bob Strauss, a dinosaur expert for Dinosaurs.com, “If you met a live Velociraptor today, it would probably strike you as slightly dumber than a chicken”. So it is safe to say that we humans are smarter than dinosaurs, however, that may only be because we had to adapt to be. (dinosaur.about.com)

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/dinosaur-fossil-brain-tissue-paleontology-animals-science/

http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/dinosaurbasics/a/dinosmarts.htm

An Appreciation Post for Pterosaurs

        Although Pterosaurs are not technically dinosaurs it is still important to acknowledge their existence during the Mesozoic Era. I would not feel right running a blog about dinosaurs without including the iconic Pterodactyl in it. This fear inspiring, flying creature lived in slightly different forms during all of the Mesozoic Era (livescience.com). Pterosaurs, or pterodactyls as we know them, belong to the taxonomic order Pterosauria (livescience.com). All flying reptiles during the Mesozoic Era belonged to this order and were, in fact not dinosaurs. They were, however, the first vertebrates to fly (Brittanica.com).

            This blog post goes out to you, Pterosaurs. Thank you for dealing with us commoners frequently misidentifying you as dinosaurs or birds. Thank you for having that silent ‘P’ – it has inspired many jokes and helped me win a spelling contest. Thank you for striking fear into the hearts of all of Jurassic Park’s (fictional) visitors. Most importantly though, thank you for being so gosh darn cool.

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Photo Source

A Haiku* to Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs can fly

They are creatures of the sky

Dinosaurs are not**

 

*Please excuse me Pterosaurs, I am not a skilled enough poet to write an Ode to Pterosaurs.

**Many modern birds descended from dinosaurs, but the Mesozoic Era dinosaur could, fortunately, not fly (livescience.com).

Sources: http://www.livescience.com/24071-pterodactyl-pteranodon-flying-dinosaurs.html

https://www.britannica.com/animal/pterosaur

An Introduction to the Modern Dinosaur

When you walk into a toy store anywhere in the world you are always encountered by the typical dinosaurs. A T-Rex, a stegosaurus, maybe even a Pterodactyl. Children always love them, however, they very rarely show the Modern Dinosaur. Or, how a modern scientist understands ancient dinosaurs, rather. Dinosaurs were not the massive green lizards we once thought they were. Dinosaurs were complex creatures, and modern media often gets that wrong. Let’s start this blog by setting the facts straight;

What Are Dinosaurs?

  • Dinosaurs first arrived on our lovely earth about 230 million years ago
  • These towering creatures ruled the earth for about 135 million years
  • Recently, many feather or feather-like fossils have been discovered
  • However, most dinosaurs did not fly or even glide (livescience.com)

Dinosaurs are divided into three main classes

  • Sauropods: These dinosaurs were herbivores with long heads, necks, and tails. The brachiosaurus and diplodocus are part of this family.
  • Theropods: These were carnivorous, fearsome dinosaurs that walked on two legs. These massive dinosaurs are some of the most recognizable, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • Ornithischia: The armored, herbivore dinosaurs fell into this class. Examples include the Stegosaurus and Triceratops.(livescience.com)

When dinosaurs lived-The Mesozoic era: This era is divided into three periods: Triassic, Jurassic, and cretaceous

  • Triassic: During this period many small, fast dinosaurs were welcomed to the earth
  • Jurassic: During this time many large dinosaurs developed
  • Cretaceous: This period held many of the most recognizable dinosaurs, like the T-Rex. At the end of this period, there was a massive extinction and the Mesozoic era ended. Now that we’ve got the basic dinosaur information down we will be able to further explore dinosaur discoveries in future blog posts. As with all scientific research, the world of dinosaurs is expanding each and every day. Although media may often not portray them in the most accurate sense (where are the dinosaurs with feathers?!) learning about dinosaurs is a fascinating thing to explore and hopefully, all those reading this blog discovered something new about dinosaurs. (livescience.com)

Sources for information in this blog post:

http://www.livescience.com/43295-triassic-period

http://www.livescience.com/3945-history-dinosaurs.html