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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 ·  1,014 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
A world-renowned paleontologist takes readers all over the globe to reveal a new science that trumps science fiction: how humans can re-create a dinosaur.

In movies, in novels, in comic strips, and on television, we’ve all seen dinosaurs—or at least somebody’s educated guess of what they would look like. But what if it were possible to build, or grow, a real dinosaur, with
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published March 19th 2009 by Dutton Adult (first published 2009)
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Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, science
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
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Ann Keller
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nick Gotch
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very, Very FUN Book!
Peter Panacci
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredible look into the world of paleontology and evolutionary biology which will leave you excited, and slightly terrified, for the future of science! By analyzing the complex mechanisms for both small, long term evolution, and those cataclysmic events which spawned open, massive evolutionary changes, Jack Horner provides a unique new perspective for observing the past: by altering and backwards evolving present day relatives of the long lost dinosaurs. The idea of hatching a dinosaur from ...more
Horner is something of an icon to me. i began hearing his name and even seeing him in NOVA documentaries when i was younger and very much more into dinosaurs. it was interesting to read his thoughts on his vision to turn a chicken into a dinosaur.

basically, he wants to manipulate the genetic on and off codes to regulate embryological patterns to unsuppress the dinosaur genes that still reside within chickens. chickens with teeth and front claws and tails would be the goal. there is no danger of
This is a horribly written book. There is a ridiculous amount of completely irrelevant filler, a few interesting dinosaur bits and pieces that have nothing to do with the book title (and presumably subject) and then a magazine article length section on "how to build a dinosaur" by fiddling with chicken genomes, along with how the general public is going to freak out about it. The author spends the entire first chapter babbling about a town in the middle of nowhere, how to get there, local gossip ...more
Sam Wescott
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was really interesting! So, a quick glance at the book synopsis mentioned that Horner consulted for Jurassic Park and based on the cover (I know, I know, I did the thing) and the title, I half-expected this book to be about bringing dinosaurs to life on film. Oops! My bad. This book is actually about Chickenosaurus.


Yes! Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner wants to reverse engineer a chicken embryo into something like a dinosaur, with a real tail, teeth, and forearms instead of wings
Luke Johnson
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
So if you go in on the idea that dinosaurs didn't really become extinct, and that instead, they just evolved into birds Jack Horner has an interesting idea. By "silencing" certain aspects of a chicken embryo's development we can basically return the chicken, on a subject by subject basis, back into a dinosaur.

It's an interesting idea, the possibility of which Horner himself describes as one that would take many, many years and a whole lot of money and would not be something he would expect to s
Ray King
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Interesting. I'm definitely no biology major, so several concepts went over my head. However, the premise was definitely attention grabbing. Genetics was one of the few biology things that I enjoyed in my college days, and I love the Jurassic Park films. So naturally I'd be curious if we could take science-fiction and turn it into science-FACT. There's more information on Horner's dino-chicken online if you're curious to see where the project is after this book was published in 2009 ...more
Mountain Girl
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Tom Edwards
Aug 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
Out of all the books I've ever gotten through, this has more unnecessary filler content than any of them. The majority of the book goes on about how Dinosaurs were, rather than possible methods that could potentially bring back an extinct creature. Excluding parts in the final chapter, the rest of the book is going on one long tangent. Despite the fascinating concept, I wouldn't recommend this one.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
This read a lot more like a very lengthy research grant application. I liked the sections that explained some of the experimental techniques, it is interesting that some techniques used for detection of infectious diseases can also be used for research. But the bulk of the book is on justifying the research, and it does get very repetitive.
Niccolò Ceresa
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: divulgazione
A bit of disappointment.

this book is a huge filler: the most part is a Very Long introduction to the main target, also is Very broad and general, giving Very Little space to the main Topic.

However. ignoring the title, this is still a good book.

I would given a better rating if the title was different, it is like a false commercial.
Gevera Bert
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I would like to place an order for a chickenosaurus please.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, 2018, nonfiction
The thing about science non-fiction, is that the book becomes out of date the moment it goes on sale.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very catchy, very interesting, thought provoking.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Brace yourself. If you grabbed this thinking it was going to be about the scientific possibility of a real-life Jurassic Park, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Alternatively, jump ahead to the last two chapters of the book, because that's the only part of this book where the title is really all that relevant. Up until then, it's nothing more than a narrative recapturing of what advances have been made in paleontology and the timeline in which those advances were made. If you're a complete ...more
miha ha
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audioknjige
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 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 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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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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