Despite having been extinct from the world for 65 million years, dinosaurs continue to capture the imagination of people everywhere. One group in the United Kingdom, in particular, even predicts that the giant creatures are bound to make a comeback in the not-so-distant future.
Scientists are poised to make breakthroughs in the next 30 years that will help solve a number of present-day problems such as the energy crisis and various environmental concerns, according to a new study by the Adam Smith Institute in the UK.
One very interesting forecast the ASI made relates to how technology is set to become advanced enough that it could bring back creatures that have long been extinct such as dinosaurs.
According to Dr. Madsen Pirie, founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute, the massive creatures will be revived not in the matter featured in the "Jurassic Park" films, which depict scientists extracting well-preserved dinosaur DNA from insects frozen in amber, but rather through a process known as back-breeding.
Back-breeding involves tracing the modern-day relatives of long-dead species and retrieving information from their DNA. Once scientists have isolated the signatures in the DNA that relate to the ancient creatures, they will then use gene technology and selective breeding techniques to give living counterparts with the characteristic features of their ancestors.
In the case of the dinosaurs, traces of their DNA have survived in the bodies of flightless birds such as chickens. Researchers are looking to back-breed these birds to give them the features of dinosaurs such their small forelimbs, tails and jaws with teeth.
While it is doubtful that the revived dinosaurs will be set loose into the wild, Pirie believes they will likely be kept in nature reserves. Here scientists will be able to study the behavior characteristics of the creatures in order to find out more about their past.
Pirie, however, anticipates that process of back-breeding dinosaurs will be a controversial issue. Researchers will likely claim that it would only result in the creation of modern creatures that are made to look and act like dinosaurs and not descendants of the originals.
Pirie said that this is a valid criticism of the technique, but there is a high probability that the resulting creatures will not be much different from the original dinosaurs, and they will be considered as real descendants of the ancient animals.
Photo: Yoshikazu Takada | Flickr