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How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever
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How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  898 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Despite its title, this book is not a guide to building a model of a dinosaur. MacArthur Awardwinning paleontologist Jack Horner is interested in growing a living, breathing T. rex from a manipulated chicken embryo. In How to Build a Dinosaur, he explains the science and reasoning behind this ambitious project and describes what it will tell us about the history of evoluti ...more
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Published April 13th 2009 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published 2009)
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Jun 10, 2015 Daphne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quest
Will review more later, but wanted to mark as read.

Yes, this book is super interesting, fun, and you will learn a ton from this... this 100% if you like dinosaurs, evolution, pop-sci, and because you are super cool.
Jul 26, 2009 bup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, 2011
So much of this book is, "oh, people are going to be nervous about making a dinosaur out of a chicken," and "ethical considerations this," and "playing God that."

Stop pussy-footin', Horner! We want our dinosaur chicken, and we want it NOW!

We're not going to live forever, and neither are you. You already have people changing proteins in eggs and making chicken embryos with teeth and tails. Let 'em hatch!

Grant? You don't need a grant! You need a loan, from somebody who understands that a dinosaur
Joel Carlin
Book reviews, like online hotel reviews, are entirely biased by the reviewer's background. As a professor of evolutionary biology, I like to look over books that are both responsibly written, scientifically accurate and engaging for both the high school graduate and science graduate student.

For me, it gets two stars primarily for the third category: I just found the writing a little simplistic and lacking in detail. Generalizations can let you build up an exciting story, but the language just wa
Jul 11, 2009 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a stunning example of the book contradicting its title. "Extinction doesn't have to be forever" is a sexy proposition which is addressed in the 200 or so droll pages of what's essentially a condescending conversation. The author directly indicates in the pertinent sections that he is merely talking of atavisms rather than reconstructing a dino genome. Let me save you a shit ton of time:

1)Modern tech makes the recovery of proteins possible across long periods
2)The author hates creationist
Jan 15, 2016 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Meh, this book was mostly filler. I'd say like 75% filler. Horner killed time by explaining modern dino-studies and described a few of his colleagues in great detail. Then he finally got down to brass tacks and explained how he wants to turn a chicken into a dinosaur. Great, I'm on board. Get to work doctor.
Vildan Acar
Jan 09, 2017 Vildan Acar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
biyoloji finalimden hemen önce başlamakta akıllılık ettiğim bir kitap oldu çünkü wow bunu okurken finale de çalışmış oldum teşekkürler evo-devo

"Every morning, the dinosaurs make such a racket. I can hear them outside my bedroom window, singing the dawn chorus. When I leave the house they are everywhere. I see them in parks, patrolling the parking lots of shopping malls, on the prairie, along rivers, at the sea, and in New York City, where they live in astonishing numbers. I often find them on my
Nick Gotch
Mar 19, 2009 Nick Gotch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Believe it or not, the title's no joke: the author really does want to bring back a dinosaur. Ok, maybe a superficially similar form, but the story really is about genetics, developmental biology, paleontology, and the like. The author's approach isn't like "Jurassic Park," rather, he has a different approach that makes a lot of sense.

It's definitely a great read even if there are quite a few off-topic tangents he seems to take. It's not so much a book about dinosaurs themselves, so don't expect
Jun 04, 2011 JennEllen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ordered this book after seeing a segment on 60 Minutes with Jack Horner and Mary Schweitzer about the research and the book, and it was well worth the read. It is written in a conversational tone, easily read by the lay person--but let's be realistic, there is a minimum level of nerdiness one needs to possess to even want to read this book in the first place. If you have that nerdiness though--be it a background in science or simply (like me) a residual fascination with dinosaurs that has carr ...more
Nicholas Lofaro
Jan 13, 2013 Nicholas Lofaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anything about this science gets 5 stars because it's dinosaurs and dinosaurs always get 5 stars! haha! A quick read, more about imaginative science than perfect science, which is fun. Kids could read this, which is also important. Saw a special on 60 minutes about this concept and book, can't wait for a chickensaurus.
Pete Cochran
Apr 19, 2012 Pete Cochran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very, Very FUN Book!
Mountain Girl
I live in Bozeman, MT and Horner's Museum of the Rockies is a favorite of mine. I tell all visitors to town "you have to make a stop at the Museum to see all the dinosaur stuff." So this is my way of explaining that I'm a fan of Dr. Horner and all his research. But this book just didn't quite do it for me--while some parts were quite simplistic, other parts were really complicated (to me). But it's an interesting starting point and a very quick read.
miha ha
Nov 27, 2015 miha ha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audioknjige, 2016
Zlo fino, čeprov na začetku me je zlo motil k je take ovinke delov in pripovedvou vse kar me ni zanimal o kraju kjer so izkopaval dinozavre, potem pa je le začel bol o dinozavrih pisat in je blo zmer bolš :)

Ideja je čist fest, ugotovit kako spet iz kokošjih genov "zbudit" dinozavrove karakteristike in naredit nekej zelo podobnega dinozavru - Chickenosaurus :) samo potem na koncu piše kako to zagovarjat širši javnosti, da sicer bi melo to genetsko raziskovanje tud pozitiven vpiv na nas ljudi, za
Jun 21, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. I found the topic intriguing, but found the diction sometimes difficult to understand. It wasn't the scientific content, but more how the sentences were structured. Some sentences were longer than they needed to be, and the subject of the sentence would get lost in all the explanation, leaving you to wonder what's even being explained. This got to be very tedious at times, and just all-around frustrating since I really enjoyed t ...more
Todd Martin
Nov 12, 2009 Todd Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever” noted paleontologist Jack Horner discusses the state of paleontological science and puts forth some interesting ideas about how it may be used to make further discoveries in the field.

Like with any cutting edge science, some of the discoveries he recounts have yet to be independently confirmed and gain universal and approval. All the same, the ideas are intriguing. Paleontology used to be dominated by bone hunters and comparati
Ann Keller
Renowned paleontologist, Jack Horner, and James Gorman, deputy science editor of The New York Times, have written a profound book in How to Build A Dinosaur. Rather than zeroing in on ancient dinosaur DNA, Horner and his colleagues instead focus on evolutionary development, or “evo-devo”, as they term it.

We know that the embryos of multiple creatures develop in a similar fashion, for a time featuring arm and beg buds as well as tails. Assuming that dinosaurs evolved in a similar manner, Jack Hor
Apr 27, 2011 Magila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
crowd-sourcing has this right, a 3.5. half way between 3 and 4. the science was not intimidating (to a non-scientist). certainly it was detailed enough for biologists to enjoy. it's worth a read.

the places it fell short. first, there were a few points where the author diverged from the subject at hand to interject evolution commentary. it is necessary to provide some background, and explain where following genetic lines could simplify or complicate a microbiological cloning effort to bring back
Ebster Davis
A few years ago I was waiting in a dentists office, I picked up a magazine and read an article about developmental evolution that could turn a chicken into a dinosaur. It was riviting. I looked forward to reading this book.

Now that I've read it, I'm a bit disenchanted. Most of this book doesn't deal with the chicken-dinosaur directly; and until I could see how each of the chapters progressively builds on the next one, it was hard to see what the author was talking about and how it related to de
Sean McBride
Mr. Horner is no doubt a great teacher. I would love to be in any one of his classes, because you can tell, just by his writing style that he wants his students to learn and figure the issues out for themselves. The fact that he is an evolutionary paleontologist, and willingly teaches and tells creationists that they can decide for themselves, that he has the mental fortitude and patience to do so, is admirable and incredible. The text itself was interesting as well, a touch base about evolution ...more
Nov 09, 2009 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Having heard Jack Horner lecture on his theories about the natural history of T. rex and Maiasuar and read his book 'Digging Dinosaurs' I may be predisposed to like this book. The book may seem dry to some with it's opening exposition about fossil hunting and discussion of combining paleontology with laboratory research with DNA. Horner confesses that the scenario supposed in 'Jurassic Park' is quite incredible as a means of recreating dinosaurs. Rather Horner recaps the evidence that birds are ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Kayt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Horner's latest, which deals with reverse evolution and other very cool and exciting things. Like fossilized hemoglobin, and cretaceous collagen, and developmental evolution that could (theoretically) produce a dinosaur from a chicken embryo.

I found the sections that deal more heavily with embryology a bit harder to follow, so the last quarter of the book definitely took longer to process than the first 3/4. That's okay. The theories are pretty groundbreaking, even though th
Amy Vaterlaus
I am glad that I had read Your Inner Fish before this one because they talked about a few of the topics of evolution that were discussed in that book. I think this book is well written and easy to understand the finding of the similarities of birds to dinosaurs. I liked that they included Mary Schweitzer findings of the similarities of molecular similarities between Tyrannosaurus remains and chickens. I liked that even though she has a strong religious belief, she still can see that evolution is ...more
Deniz Cem Önduygu
Yes, yes, this is not exactly a book on how to really build a dinosaur. That wouldn't be something you can buy at $10. This is an informal conversation with a brilliant and eccentric paleontologist covering science, pedagogy, history and philosophy; from what it's like to hunt for fossils under the sun, to the latest findings that established the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds; from the molecular biology of embryonic development, to the ethical questions about animal experiments – ...more
May 25, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a fantastic read. The book has the feel of conversing with Jack Horner it's a little rambling at times but tends to stay around on some of the exciting developments for the future of paleontology. The science covered was detailed but not so in depth as to lose the reader. I think this was helped by the fact that Jack, as he mentions often, is not an evolutionary development biologist; he doesn't have the background to go too in depth. Still I found myself keeping my phone ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Bronwyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This isn't a book for everyone, but I grew up loving dinosaurs and am raising an almost-six-year-old who is obsessed with them, so I really enjoyed it. The title is a little misleading, but it sure gets your attention. A true dinosaur can't be reconstructed, but the leading experts believe it is possible to alter a few proteins here and there to turn on and off the genes of, say, a chicken to grow teeth and a tail to create a sort of dinochicken. If you're curious about genetics, evolution, dino ...more
James (JD) Dittes
I read this book to keep up with my 10-year-old son, Owen's encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs. It was a great read.

In the first two chapters, Horner quickly dismisses the idea behind Jurassic Park--that dinosaur DNA is still around, waiting to be harvested and cloned into new dinosaurs. Even as paleontology has moved to the molecular level--as vessels and blood cells have been harvested from fossils--there is no sign of DNA or cell nuclei.

Horner turns to genetics and embryology in the last ha
Ted Hopkins
This proposal for an experiment, written for the lay reader, gives an enjoyable and satisfying read. The discussion draws upon knowledge in both palaeontology and molecular biology as applied in current research in the field of evolutionary developmental biology. These fields of science combined give better understanding of how changes which occur on a molecular level cause significant changes on a physical level. The discussion gives an intriguing overview of current understanding in these fiel ...more
Tim Ganotis
Dec 30, 2015 Tim Ganotis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was excited to get this for Christmas. I had enjoyed Horner's TED talk on the same subject.

My biggest issue with the book is that it's simply not the type of subject matter I'm used to. This one was very... science-y. That's not a critique... it just means that I found it harder to enjoy this book than expected. The premise is very entertaining, but the reality behind making a dinosaur from a genetically-modified chicken is complex and detailed. I can tell that Horner is trying desperately to si
May 26, 2014 Syd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up on a whim because some part of me is still seven years old and intrigued by dinosaurs. The first couple of chapters coupled with the title had me skeptical. But coming to the end of the book there was more emphasis on discussing the results of trying to bring back old characteristics to current species. Asking a question will sometimes lead to an answer, but it always leads to more questions and what better way to further out knowledge. Don't read this book if your heart is ...more
Nicholas Griffith
Although it starts off slow, the research behind this book is extraordinary. The new evolutionary field of evo-devo is coming up with surprising new insight as to how embryos develop. Very much ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, it seems as though in many animals the embryo undergoes the transformation of it's genetic ancestors. In the case of a chicken, for a brief stage in the chicken's development it resembles something more like it's dinosaur ancestor. (In humans, the tadpole stage is probabl ...more
Leo Morales-Egizi
Jack Horner wants to take a chicken embryo and fidget with regulator genes in such a way that the chicken grows teeth, a long tail, and clawed forearms instead of wings; that is, he wants to make a non-avian dinosaur. This book tells you why and how it might work, why Horner thinks we should do it, and why it wouldn't result in a terrifying apocalypse. It's an intriguing idea and it's exciting to learn about the kind of research that has been and is being done that might make it a reality. The b ...more
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“The worse the country, the more tortured it is by water and wind, the more broken and carved, the more it attracts fossil hunters, who depend on the planet to open itself to us. We can only scratch away at what natural forces have brought to the surface.” 2 likes
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