Should Dinosaurs Be Cloned from Ancient DNA?
Department of Geology
Cooley Science Library
Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, as a novel and then a blockbuster movie, reawakened the public's fascination with dinosaurs. Although dinosaurs have always been popular, Spielberg's sophisticated cinema computer graphics thrilled human imagination with a wistful longing to see these great life forms. What if we could actually bring them back to life? Technological advances in molecular biology technology in the future might allow us to extract ancient DNA from fossilized dinosaur remains. Could we amplify it, replicate it, and implant it in a host such as an ostrich egg? This tantalizing fantasy has become increasingly closer to reality with recent successful efforts to clone mammals. How close are we to creating Jurassic Park? This case allows students to work cooperatively and explore the scientific, technical, environmental, and ethical issues related to raising "T-rex and Company" from the dead.
- Enhance the learning environment in a large-enrollment introductory class through cooperative problem-solving.
- Promote active participation in learning by using library and web resources to do research on a controversial topic in science (and ethics).
- Apply knowledge explored in readings, lectures, and in-class discussions about dinosaurs, their diversity, distribution, physiology, behavior, environmental requirements, and extinction.
- Gain a general understanding of the revolutionary techniques used to discover and retrieve ancient DNA and to produce a clone from a living adult animal.
- Improve communication (written and oral) and collaboration skills by working cooperatively in small groups and arguing a position in an authoritative fashion.
KeywordsDinosaurs; clone; cloning; ancient DNA; fossil DNA
Topical AreasEthics, Scientific argumentation
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Debate, Dilemma/Decision, Public Hearing, Role-Play, Trial, Student Presentations
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Evolutionary Biology | Paleontology | Geology | Earth Science |