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Scientists are attempting to recreate dinosaurs by manipulating chicken DNA

Scientists are attempting to recreate dinosaurs by manipulating chicken DNA 86

Deep inside the dusty university store room, three scientists struggle to lift a huge fossilised bone.

It is from the leg of a dinosaur. For many years, this chunky specimen has languished cryptically on a shelf.

Interesting but useless — a forgotten relic of a lost age. Now, with hammer and chisel poised, the academics from Montana State University in America gather round.

They are about to shatter this rare vestige of the past. Why would they do such a thing?

Television programme : When Dinosaurs Roamed. Using state of the

Lost age: Scientists now believe it is possible to resurrect the dinosaur after the discovery of DNA relics in the wings and beaks of regular chickens

The answer is that they believe that this single fragment of a beast which stalked the earth untold millions of years ago could hold the key which will unlock the secrets of the dinosaurs.

Extraordinarily, they contend that it could lead to a real life Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs are once again unleashed on the world by scientists.

For just like in the hit Steven Spielberg movie, these men and women are intent on cracking the genetic code of the dinosaurs and opening the possibility of bringing them back to life.

It poses the question: will scientists ever be able to resurrect the dinosaur?

According to Jack Horner, professor of palaeontology at Montana State University, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

He says: ‘Of course we can bring them back to life. Their ancestral DNA is still present.

‘The science is there. I don’t think there are any barriers, other than the philosophical.’

So just how have these scientists arrived at the point where they believe they might unleash the mysteries of a prehistoric lost world?

In order to understand their journey, we have to travel back a little less time — to 1992.

This was when Raul Cano, professor of microbiology at California Polytechnic State University, made the first attempt to extract DNA from insects almost as old as the dinosaurs that had been embedded in amber, a sticky tree sap which hardens into transparent orange stone.

Speculation about this possibility inspired the Jurassic Park story, in which an amber-trapped mosquito which sucked dinosaur blood unleashes its victims’ genetic code, allowing an obsessed billionaire to clone the species — with terrifying consequences.

In his real-life laboratory, Cano cracked the amber open with freezing cold liquid nitrogen, obtaining a sample of the insect inside.

Amazingly, he soon had a DNA sample from a 40 million-year-old bee.

Soon afterwards, academics at the American Museum of Natural History recovered DNA from an ancient termite.

It seemed that dinosaur DNA could soon be within reach of modern-day scientists.

But these early experiments ended in failure.

The scientists could not replicate their results, leading to the suspicion that the tiny recovered fragments were actually contaminants, perhaps from the researchers’ hair or clothing.

The search for ancient DNA in amber was abandoned, and it seemed that the door to the past remained closed.

Since then however, researchers looking for prehistoric genetic fragments have managed to recover material from a 40,000-year-old mammoth, and from 45,000-year-old Neanderthal bones.

But still there were doubts that dinosaur DNA could have survived.

Then, in 2003, hopes were revived once again.

Horner, who acted as an advisor on the Jurassic Park films, made a remarkable discovery while his team were excavating a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in Montana.

The site was so remote, the skeleton had to be removed by helicopter — the operation led to a huge thighbone splitting in two.

Horner gave a piece of the bone to one of his students, palaeontologist Mary Schweitzer.

Examining it, she noticed a strange structure inside the hard outer case.

It resembled a pattern found only in the bones of pregnant birds.

Puzzled, she asked her research assistant, Jennifer Wittmeyer, to dissolve the outer mineral layer.

Six hours later, there was a knock on the door.

‘Jennifer ran into the room saying, “You’re not going to believe this,”’ recalls Schweitzer.

‘When she picked up a small piece, it stretched and moved all over the place.

‘So we knew we had something pretty unusual.’

The magnitude of the discovery was immediately apparent to the Montana University team — the material appeared to be well preserved flesh from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Horner says: ‘It’s unimaginable to find soft tissue. It was just assumed that everything had been fossilised.’

More extraordinary yet, was the next find in neighbouring parts of the dinosaur bone.

‘Out popped the blood vessels,’ says Schweitzer.

‘I said, “I don’t believe it, that’s not possible”. It was one of those goose bump moments.’

Horner and his team knew that blood vessels should not exist in fossilised bone.

Many scientists believed organic matter from a living thing could not survive more than 100,000 years — let alone 68 million years.

Next came the team’s attempt to salvage DNA from other bones kept in the university storerooms.

They put the samples they collected under a powerful microscope.

Magnified 4,000 times, tiny structures unlikely to be mineralised fossil material were apparent.

They seemed to be the microscopic cells that built dinosaur bones — called osteocytes.

So far, so good.

But Horner came to believe that his team needed to turn their work on its head if they were to unleash the dinosaur.

Amazing as the discovery of ‘living’ dinosaur tissue was, he feared that constructing a complete DNA map from it would be a never ending task.

So he embarked on a new strategy: retro-engineering a bird.

It is generally accepted by palaeontologists that birds are descended from a class of theropod dinosaurs called raptors.

‘If we want to see a dinosaur in our lifetime, we need to start with a bird and work backwards,’ says Horner.

‘As long as birds exist, we have the ability to reach back to dinosaurs.’

In the 1990s, scientists discovered dinosaurs in China buried in a fine ash.

They were preserved in remarkable detail and bird-like features, including claws and feathers, were recognisable.

Horner believes that a modern bird’s DNA contains a genetic memory that could be ‘switched on’ again, resurrecting long-dormant dinosaur traits.

To make such a creature, he would start with the genome (the whole hereditary information encoded in the DNA) of an emu.

‘Emus have all the features we need in order to make a Velociraptor-sized dinosaur,’ he says.

‘If I were to make a dinosaur, that is where I’d start.’

Far-fetched as this sounds, his work is supported by other leading academics.

Sean Carroll, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin, says: ‘The inventory of genes in a bird would be very similar to the inventory of genes in a dinosaur.

‘It is differences in the decision-making that takes during development that make the difference between a chicken and a tyrannosaurus.’

Hans Larsson, a palaeontologist at McGill University in Canada, conducted an experiment in November 2007 into the evolution from dinosaurs’ long tails into birds’ short tails more than 150 million years ago.

Looking at a two-day-old chicken embryo, he made an unexpected discovery.

Expecting to see between four and eight vertebrae present in the developing spine, his microscope instead picked out 16 vertebrae — effectively a reptilian tail.

As the embryo developed, the ‘tail’ became shorter and shorter, until the young bird hatched with only five vertebrae.

Larsson says of the significance of the find: ‘For about 150 million years, this kind of a tail has never existed in birds.

‘But they have always carried it deep inside their embryology.’

So, the blueprint for a dinosaur remained locked inside the modern-day bird.

Larsson decided to move from theory to reality.

He wanted to see if he could make a chicken grow a dinosaur’s tail, turning the clock back millions of years.

Manipulating the genetic make-up, he was able to extend the tail by a further three vertebrae.

Larsson had pinpointed a method for turning on dormant dinosaur genes.

If birds retained a dormant tail imprint, did they still retain a memory of dinosaur teeth?

In 2005, Matt Harris and John Fallon, developmental biologists at the University of Wisconsin, noticed something strange while researching mutant chickens.

Harris says: ‘Looking at an embryonic 14-day-old head, I came across the beak and these structures that were not supposed to be there.’

Could they really be teeth? Peeling away the beak in this tiny, mutant bird, the academics revealed sabreshaped formations almost identical to embryonic alligator teeth.

Next, Harris and Fallon attempted to trigger the formation of teeth in a normal chicken, by injecting the embryo with a virus designed to ‘turn on’ the relevant gene.

It was a long shot.

‘Making a tooth is complex,’ says Harris. ‘So the idea of turning on one gene that might be able to do this in an animal that hasn’t made teeth in over 70 million years, was somewhat of a stretch.’

Examining the growing embryo two weeks later, he called colleagues to look at what had happened.

‘You could see very clearly paired structures on the lower jaw.

‘And so, a normal chicken can actually grow teeth.’

This was unexpected. Furthermore, the teeth had the same curved shape as dinosaur
fangs.

Following this, Harris and Fallon began to find other dinosaur traits in the DNA of birds, such as scales.

They looked at an ancient Chinese breed of chicken called a Silkie.

It has primitive plumage similar to that believed to grow on some dinosaurs.

By activating a dormant gene, Harris and Fallon attempted to ‘trick’ the chicken’s leg into growing feathers instead of scales.

It worked — they had uncovered the genetic changes that had taken place as the dinosaur evolved into a bird.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Larsson had found that the three-fingered dinosaur claw structure remains hidden within a bird’s wing to this day.

‘The dinosaur fingers are adapted for grasping and snatching prey,’ he explains.

‘If we compare this to modern birds, we see the same structures in their wings but adapted for flight.’

With further research, he believes scientists should be able to transform a bird’s wing back into a dinosaur arm.

So, will it one day be possible to reverse evolution?

Mark Westhusin is a world-renowned expert in creating life forms from DNA.

Together with his colleague, Dewey Kramer, at Texas A&M University, he has cloned more species than researchers at any other laboratory, including a White-tailed deer and a Black Angus bull.

Westhusin explains that soon, the relevant DNA to turn back the clock could be manufactured and implanted into an emu egg, for instance, to trigger dormant genes.

‘We already have small artificial chromosomes that have been put into embryos and develop and divide and express their genes,’ he explains.

‘The technology is advancing so fast, in sequencing genes and in putting genes back together, and in manufacturing long stretches of DNA.’

Larsson now believes that in a hundred years or so, geneticists could retro-engineer animals that appear identical to Mesozoic dinosaurs.

‘Why can’t we take all the genetics, just change it around a little bit, and produce a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or something that looks like one?’ he asks.

‘I think that kind of scenario is quite possible. Maybe sooner than we think.’

Fallon agrees, saying: ‘As we learn more, we’ll be able to do it.

‘The genetic knowledge is in the bird.’

For his part, Horner imagines creating the first example.

‘I have to admit that I’ve certainly imagined walking up on a stage to give a talk, and having a little dino chicken walk up behind me,’ he says.

‘That would be kind of cool.

‘There is now nothing to stop us bringing back dinosaurs but ourselves.

‘People who don’t believe it don’t know much about evolution.’ | dailymail.co.uk

Sources:

20 Years After ‘Jurassic Park,’ a Dinosaur-Chicken Hybrid Could Soon Exist

Canadian scientist says he can create dinosaurs from chickens

Sorry, you will never ride, see or pet a cloned dinosaur

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New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a “ghost” particle that makes up dark matter

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a "ghost" particle that makes up dark matter 99
Photo: Daniel Molybdenum, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have found that the mysterious high-energy radiation emitted from the vicinity of a group of neutron stars may indicate the existence of axions – not yet discovered particles within the framework of New Physics, the search for which has been going on since 1977. It is assumed that special types of axions form dark matter. This is reported in an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The research is summarized in a press release on Phys.org.

It is believed that axions can form in the core of neutron stars and transform into photons in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. To detect the electromagnetic radiation associated with axions, you need to find stars that do not emit radiation at different wavelengths that can mask the desired signal. 

These objects include the Magnificent Seven neutron stars that emit only X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. They are located at a distance of 200-500 parsecs from the Earth.

The researchers ruled out the scenario that the excess X-rays produced by the Magnificent Seven are actually emitted by other, more distant objects. These sources would be found in datasets from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray space telescopes.

The extra X-rays likely originate from axions hitting an extremely strong electromagnetic field billions of times stronger than the magnetic fields that could be created on Earth, the scientists concluded. The axions themselves resemble neutrinos in their properties, since both have insignificant masses and rarely and weakly interact with matter.

The axion is currently viewed as the most promising candidate for dark matter particles, since another hypothetical candidate, the massive WIMP particle, has gone unnoticed in experiments aimed at detecting it. 

In addition, there may be a whole family of axion-like particles that form dark matter, as suggested by string theory. If axions are found, it will prove that there is a whole new area of ​​physics outside the Standard Model describing the properties of all known particles.

To find out, the next step will be to study white dwarfs, which are not expected to emit X-rays.

“If we see an abundance of X-rays there too, our arguments will be pretty compelling,” said lead author Benjamin Safdie.

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The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 100

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 101

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 102
Photo: 
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

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Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 103
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

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