In addition to chickens, another bird that is a potential candidate to be reverse engineered into a dinosaur would be the emu. I found this video that truly highlights the dinosaur in them, waiting to wake up. Even though emus are still birds, there is still a considerable amount of dinosaur in them. I wonder how much of their prehistoric instincts would be awakened when their genes are reverse engineered. I will tinker with this concept further in my new dinosaur book.
In my new dinosaur book, I realized something. Even though being able to reverse the extinction of a species would be phenomenal, there will always be those who would oppose the very idea of it. Due to this, as my protagonist’s experiments grow and advance, certain parties will stop at nothing to destroy his research. These groups may be animal rights groups who don’t like the idea of altering an animal’s biology or religious extremists who hate science and the concept of evolution. Essentially, these groups will play a major role when things start going wrong.
One of the concepts I found intriguing about dinosaurs is that even though birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, not all dinosaurs were related to birds. At some point in their evolution, dinosaurs diverged in two different directions: some dinosaurs that had ties to birds and some that had ties to reptiles. In my new dinosaur book, one of the retro-engineering experiments will revolve around trying to discover the missing link dinosaurs had between birds and reptiles. Now that I think about it, when the gap between these two evolutionary paths is bridged, the results might be very unpredictable.
As I brainstorm for my dinosaur story, I think back to the experiences I had with animals that had ties to prehistory. When I was a kid, my family own a cockatiel who was a skilled problem solver and frequently escaped from her cage. Her intellect reminded me of Velociraptors from Jurassic Park, who demonstrated similar problem solving skills such as learning to open doors. She even stalked the dogs while walking on the floor, which was also similar to how Velociraptors hunted their prey. I interact with birds every time I go to the pet store for dog food and I could see the same primal intelligence in their eyes; even the way they moved and bobbed their heads reminded me of predatory dinosaurs. I also own a desert tortoise, who reminded me of an Ankylosaurus due to being a herbivore and being armor-plated. One time, my tortoise got into a fight with one of our little dogs. The dog barked at the tortoise while the tortoise stomped his feet and hissed at the dog. This behavior reminded me of a Stegosaurus defending itself from an Allosaurus. In addition, when I think about my tortoise’s giant cousins in the Galapagos Islands, they more closely resemble the long necked sauropods such as Brachiosaurus in terms of appearance and eating habits. Even in zoos and wildlife documentaries, I get to see the undeniable dinosaur mentality in birds and reptiles waiting to wake up. When it comes to mammals such as lions and elephants, I could see the remnants of the saber-toothed cats and wooly mammoths lingering within them. When I remember these interactions and consider the retro-engineering experiment, I wonder how much of their innate prehistoric nature would be awakened as their bodies start to resemble their ancestors’. Part of me is frightened by the concept while the rest of me is fascinated by it. It will be something fun to tinker with as I brainstorm the story. While Jurassic Park talks about bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, my story will highlight that dinosaurs and the Ice Age megafauna NEVER truly became extinct and just needed to be woken up.
In my previous post, I mentioned that the main character of my new dinosaur story would have difficulty connecting with his fellow humans. One such connection is learning how to love someone. The female lead of the story will have strong romantic feelings towards the protagonist and admires both his intellect and achievements, but she is having difficulty making him notice her due to his innate detachment. Her attempts to make him connect with her will serve as a component to both her character development and the development of the protagonist. It will be a complex love story between a man who does not know how to be human and a woman who is overflowing with humanity.
For my new dinosaur story, the main character will be a young geneticist who engages in an experiment on evolution. I did some research and found out that the youngest person to graduate from college was ten years old. I am thinking of making my protagonist one of those rare genius prodigies. He creates his first retro-engineered animal when he’s a teenager and most of the story takes place when he’s in his early 20s. Essentially, my protagonist will be an undeniably smart character, but he won’t be a wise character. Due to having an unmatched intellect and gaining so much knowledge from an early age, the main character does not have enough experience when it comes to connecting with other people. In fact, he will have a deeper connection with his genetic creations than his fellow human beings. His lack of wisdom and experience will become contributing factors to when everything goes wrong. One of the main themes of the story is how the character learns to connect with fellow humans and learning empathy.
When it comes to retro-engineering birds back into dinosaurs, I think there will be certain consequences. Altering an animals genes won’t just change them physically, but mentally as well. Birds have 65 million years of dormant instincts waiting to wake up. I have interacted with chickens in my university’s annual petting zoo and they definitely felt like miniature dinosaurs. Modern birds may be in touch with their inner dinosaur to a certain degree, but what if that connection deepens as their prehistoric genes are awakened? For instance, as a chicken becomes more dinosaur-like they may start acting more like predatory raptors than tame livestock. This will be a theme I will explore when I write my book about retro-engineered dinosaurs.
In previous posts, I mentioned an experiment that was underway to retro-engineer bird embryos back into dinosaurs. At first, I toyed with the idea of using that concept to write my own dinosaur theme park story, but I have decided to discard that idea. Instead, I will use the experiment as inspiration for another story idea. This new story idea will revolve around a young geneticist who runs an experiment on evolution, which involves awakening dormant genes in bird embryos. Eventually, his experiment leads him to retro-engineer a number of clutches of bird eggs. At first, the experiment goes his way until certain side effects start to appear in his specimens. Slowly yet surely, all hell will break loose.
In some of my earlier posts, I considered the possibility of doing my own dinosaur theme park story, but I now know that I need to do something more unique than that if I want this story to succeed. This will not be a theme park story. Instead, I am thinking of basing this story on humanity’s desire to prevent their own extinction as well as our mortality as a species. By reversing the extinction of prehistoric species, they might hope to discover the secret of preventing humanity’s extinction. However, I have been doing research lately and I discovered that it is not just dinosaurs scientists are hoping to bring back, but more recently extinct animals as well such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats. They are not using cloning like in Jurassic Park, but other scientific methods that involve combining prehistoric DNA with modern animal DNA, resulting in the creation of hybrid creatures. In addition to highlighting the mortality of the human race, I will also be toying with the idea of invasive species and how they change and sometimes destroy the world around them. As a child, I have been a huge fan of dinosaurs and prehistory so this will be a fun way to connect with my inner child.
In Jurassic Park, they introduced the concept of salvaging prehistoric DNA from fossils and amber. I learned that this is only partially true in real life. A group of scientists tried to extract DNA like the scientists in Jurassic Park, but they used a different method than in the movie. In the movie, scientists drilled through amber to gain access to the DNA. In real life, scientists sterilized the amber before coating it in liquid nitrogen, which cracked the amber open. They did get DNA, but it was insect instead of dinosaur and it was only extremely small amounts. Later on, scientists cracked open Tyrannosaurus bones to find intact blood vessels and bone cells inside. However, like the amber experiments, there was only an extremely small amount of DNA that could be salvaged, which was nowhere near enough for cloning like in Jurassic Park. Still, these experiments gave me some ideas for my dinosaur theme park story idea. Even though the DNA samples were small, they may still be of use. For example, while retro-engineering birds back into dinosaur-like creatures, you could theoretically splice the embryos with whatever dinosaur DNA that could be salvaged, which could make them even more dinosaur-like. They still will be nothing like the dinosaurs that existed in the past, but they will be the next best thing. With the insect DNA from the amber, you could splice it into modern insects to make hybrids between prehistoric insects and modern ones, which would make good attractions for an insect house like what you find in any zoo.