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How to Build a Dinosaur
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How to Build a Dinosaur

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  625 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Despite its title, this book is not a guide to building a model of a dinosaur. MacArthur Award#150;winning paleontologist Jack Horner is interested in growing a living, breathing iT. rex/i from a manipulated chicken embryo. In iHow to Build a Dinosaur,/i he explains the science and reasoning behind this ambitious project and describes what it will tell us about the history ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 19th 2009 by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated (first published 2009)
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Daphne
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...

...read this 100% if you like dinosaurs, evolution, pop-sci, and because you are super cool.
bup
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
...more
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
...more
Terry
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
...more
Nick Gotch
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
...more
JennEllen
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
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
...more
Nicholas Lofaro
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.
Stacy
Spoiler alert: extinction really is forever if what you are producing can't have babies & reproduce more "real" dinosaurs. It feels like the book was edited by other science folk instead of a good book editor, as it skips around a lot so I found that somewhat distracting. All that being said, it was a quick, fun read, keeping a geeky person like me informed of what is going on in research areas like this. Dinosaurs are really interesting, and you can tell that he is very passionate about the ...more
Adam Lee
A paleontologist tackles the question of whether we can rewind evolution by using genetic manipulation to induce a chicken egg to hatch into a dinosaur.

I enjoyed Dr. Horner's vivid description of fossil digging in Montana's Hell Creek Formation, his account of how his assistant Dr. Mary Schweitzer left young-earth creationism behind to become a scientist, and his patient explanation of the "fossilized blood cells" controversy in T. rex bones that creationists seized on. That said, this book cou
...more
Chuck
The biggest problem with this book is that Horner didn't really have enough material to fill a whole book, so he padded it. For example, he spent 40 pages of a 230 page book going over the geography and history of Eastern Montana from the time of the dinosaurs, through the first arrival of man, and down to the current day. That said, the last hundred pages or so are interesting. The true subject of the book is however not really on how to build a dinosaur. That's just the hook. It's really about ...more
Tabbitha Lindsley
This was a thought provoking read that captures the interest of readers with new ideas in science that are emerging. Famous paleontologist Jack Horner talks about his ideas on reverse evolution and how to take a chicken and alter the genetic code to try and grow a dinosaur. This is nothing like Jurassic Park but a way for scientist to figure out what genes correspond to certain characteristics such as a tail or teeth, etc. It is a wonderful read and gets the word out about new groundbreaking sci ...more
Pete Cochran
Very, Very FUN Book!
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
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
...more
Todd Martin
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
...more
Magila
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
...more
Dave
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
Adam West
I was expecting Dr.Horner to explain the process he and his colleagues are currently following to create a dinosaur using a genetically modified chicken embryo. The book was basically the story of the history of paleontology over the last 3 decades. The end of the book really went into the process of creating a dinosaur...which ended up confusing me. Science was not my best topic in school.

There were some interesting stories and facts, though. Still a good read.
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
Kayt
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
...more
Barry
Let's alter the normal development of a chicken embryo to try to get it to develop the teeth, arms with grasping claws, and long tail of its dinosaur ancestors. It seems that the genes for those things are still there. Aiming to create a chickenosaurus will be a good target for a research program that will teach us a lot about the development of embryos and evolution. It may also allow us to correct developmental errors that lead to birth defects.
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
Bronwyn
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
Mike
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
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
...more
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
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
Syd
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
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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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