Star Wars and Dinosaurs
Star Wars May Give Dinosaurs A Second Chance
You might be thinking this is going to be a science fiction post. You’d be wrong, but not by much. From three Star Wars trilogies, to spin-off movie trilogies, cartoons, books, and video games, Star Wars has invaded just as much media as dinosaurs. That’s not all they have in common though. In fact, Star Wars has helped an effort to repopulate the world with dinosaurs. OK, maybe repopulate is a bit of a stretch, but the great movie franchise is definitely responsible for the imminent return of dinosaurs. Jurassic Park better start stepping up for its own kind!
John “Jack” Horner
In case you’re not familiar, Jack Horner is a world renown paleontologist, not a Jedi. He’s also been an adviser for all the Jurassic franchise films. Those are some incredible accomplishments for someone who reads on a third grade level, and doesn’t have a college degree. I don’t mean to gloss over his many incredible life achievements. These aren’t even his greatest necessarily. They’re just the ones most people can identify with. Jack Horner has worked hard, very hard, all his life in service of dinosaurs. He retires effective June 30, 2016 from public work as Curator of Paleontology for the Museum of the Rockies, Honors Program teacher at Montana State University, and more. He’s been a busy man, and hopefully he stays that way in retirement.
The Pet Chickenosaur
Retirement leaves him free to focus on his private work. That private work began in 2011, and is based on his 2009 book How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn’t Have to Be Forever. The goal is to turn a chicken into something that resembles a dinosaur. Using genetics, scientists are reverse engineering chicken DNA, de-evolving their way back to what could pass as a dinosaur. As of 2014, Mr. Horner estimated they were about 50% complete. The last remaining challenge for his project today is to create a tail-like structure. Given the type of work, it’s impossible to predict how soon they may finish. They could make a huge discovery tomorrow, or it could be years from now. Turning the chicken beak into a dinosaur snout with teeth took seven years alone.
The Cost Of A Pet Dinosaur
I know we’ve wandered a little bit from the Star Wars track here, but we’re moving back in that direction, I promise. In 2014, Mr. Horner said it would take about $5 million in funding to finish. That money would pay for three labs to work on the project, and an an expectation that within 10 years there would probably be a little dinosaur running around. Pet dinosaurs aside, this is some serious research that could have huge implications for the medical community. Humans will benefit from this research as well. Luckily today, Mr. Horner has those three labs, and i’m assuming that means he got his money. Where that money is currently coming from might surprise you. Not from Disney, or some college grant or museum, but a wealthy individual. None other than George Lucas himself. Father of Star Wars and, one day soon, dinosaurs too.