Friday, March 22, 2013

Now You're John Hammond...

Jurassic Park, as a novel by Michael Crichton and a movie by Steven Spielberg, should provide a cautionary note to a group of scientists who have a plan to make the passenger pigeon un-extinct.

Modern genetic science could help revive the bird, which existed in the hundreds of millions across North America before disappearing in 1914. The bird's natural mode of reproduction -- each nest held one chick, about as fat as its parents but unable to fly and thus a fine day at the buffet for its many predators -- combined with over-hunting by humans killed it off. But some scientists believe they can use stuffed specimens of the extinct bird and the latest research into DNA and laboratory fertilization techniques to bring it back.

But as we saw when the fictional billionaire John Hammond tried to recreate dinosaurs for his theme park, that sort of thing has problems. You may scoff -- after all, how could even a flock of not-very-bright birds bring as much danger as a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a velociraptor?

Your scoffing, however, overlooks a very important fact. These birds have been extinct for nearly a century. That means their digestive tracts will produce end products that are completely unknown to modern drycleaning science!

My mind cannot begin to calculate the potential damage.

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