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How to Build a Dinosaur  By  cover art

How to Build a Dinosaur

By: Jack Horner,James Gorman
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
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Publisher's Summary

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 without finding ancient DNA?

Jack Horner, the scientist who advised Steven Spielberg on the blockbuster film Jurassic Park and a pioneer in bringing paleontology into the 21st century, teams up with the editor of the New York Times's Science Times section to reveal exactly what's in store.

In the 1980s, Horner began using CAT scans to look inside fossilized dinosaur eggs, and he and his colleagues have been delving deeper ever since. At North Carolina State University, Mary Schweitzer has extracted fossil molecules---proteins that survived 68 million years---from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil excavated by Horner. These proteins show that T. rex and the modern chicken are kissing cousins. At McGill University, Hans Larsson is manipulating a chicken embryo to awaken the dinosaur within---starting by getting it to grow a tail and eventually prompting it to grow the forelimbs of a dinosaur.

All of this is happening without changing a single gene. This incredible research is leading to discoveries and applications so profound they're scary in the power they confer on humanity. How to Build a Dinosaur is a tour of the hot rocky deserts and air-conditioned laboratories at the forefront of this scientific revolution.

©2009 Jack Horner and James Gorman (P)2009 Tantor

What listeners say about How to Build a Dinosaur

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book but misplaced title

I enjoyed the book a lot but found the title and the actual book mismatched. As somebody interested in both paleontology and biology I enjoyed the discussions of microbiology, genetics and paleontological findings. To be sure the emerging field of evolutionary developmental biology as described by Horner, is related to his idea of building a dinosaur from a chicken by turning on and off genes to create a non-avian dinosaur-like chicken. That being said the entirety of the book is not about how to build a dinosaur. Rather it is a mix of paleontological findings over the course of the past 50 years mixed with interesting narratives about Montana and the Badlands along with the identification debates surrounding the discovery of proteins and cells in the fossils of a T-Rex and other fossils. I enjoyed the book overall and like this narrator. If you are not familiar with biology at all the technical parts will be hard to follow, but that's in only about 15 percent of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book

Simply Amazing!!!!!!! Jack Horner is a great person and I would love more books by him.

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Love it

Jack Horner is my hero and I love his work , this book is amazing.

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Maybe a different title?

I felt like very little of this book actually dealt with the process of building a dinosaur and was mostly just his thoughts on paleontology and genetics. I didn't mind it too much though because he brings up great topics and discusses interesting hypothesis while offering expert opinion on them. Overall, I would recommend but only if don't mind a writer who can be all over the place.

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Definitely recommend

Great! Took a very complicated topic (Evo Devo) and made it interesting, proactive and digestible. The narrator was very clear, easy to listen to dynamic. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in science as it also outlines the key ways to ensure proper experimental design.

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Good but...

The story and science were good. However, many of the ideas could have been expressed using far fewer words. The whole first chapter could have been about 10 words: Hell Creek is desolate and we founds lots of fossils there. OK: 11 words.

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Lost Potential

This book wanders all over the place. It starts with a very interesting hypothesis about how embryonic development of a chicken might be manipulated to recreate the morphology of dinosaurs (i.e the great great grandfathers of birds), but then it digresses. The author is not content to educate us about dinosaurs. We're also told about Clovis people, Lewis and Clark, buffalo hunting, a dog attack by a beaver, Indian use of horses, etc. etc. It also is full of silly analogies (e.g. post-meteorite earth is compared to the wild West). I could only get halfway through it. If there's no thief like a bad book, then this is the John Dillinger of books. If you're interested in dinosaurs, Audible has several good books. Unfortunately, this isn't one. Hard to believe the author (Jack Horner) had the assistance of a professional writer (James Gorman). I'm sure Horner could have done this badly on his own.