Whispers in the Heart, Part 4

This week we continue on with the first chapter of my “Remnants of Eden: Evolution, Deep-Time, & the Antediluvian World.” God bless, and stay with me as the story unfolds with the next post…

Then, in 1993, I encountered a novel concept which would irrevocably merge my interests in dinosaurs and genetic engineering. I recall eating at the kitchen table one evening alongside my brother and sister, when my mother excitedly called my name from the other room. I rushed in right away, and facing the television, I could see immediately why she was so worked up. There, on the broad screen of that old cabinet television set flashed images of dinosaurs, as real as anyone could want, during a short segment on the nightly news about an upcoming film titled Jurassic Park.

The Jurassic Park film was based on a 1989 novel of the same name, in which a wealthy dinosaur enthusiast successfully cloned dinosaurs from blood preserved in the full bellies of amber-entombed mosquitoes, and as a means of making the endeavor profitable, placed them in a vast resort complex on a distant island. The tale is fascinating to me even now, possessing as much symbolic relevance as straightforward narrative, drawing forth images of man’s inherent hubris, of our endless drive to weakly imitate God’s power through our own meager resources. It is, at its heart, an ozymandian tale of power and ultimate failure.

My young enthusiasm was apparently not unique. Jurassic Park quickly became one of the highest grossing franchises in history. Beyond the public interest in the film and its merchandise, those among the intellectual aristocracy began taking notice as well, questioning whether or not the film’s premise could hold real world applications. In fact, Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park, had in reality based his novel on actual research, specifically that of Drs. George Poinar and Roberta Hess, who, in 1982 at the University of California at Berkeley, made news with an examination of a 40 million year old fungus gnat that was preserved within fossilized amber. The immaculate state of tissue preservation prompted many, including Poinar and Hess, to question if the genetic material could be equally well preserved, not only in their specimen, but others like it also.

Both before Crichton’s novel and after, the scientific community at large was ignited by the promise of new technologies. Serious attention was being directed at what many would initially consider science fiction. Was it possible to clone extinct creatures, like the dodo or quagga? Perhaps a mammoth? Maybe even a dinosaur? The technical hurdles were astronomical but enthusiasm was abundant. In time, the reality of the situation again became undeniable, and most abandoned their pursuit of cloning dinosaurs.

A new development in 1997 reignited the interest for some. On February 22nd of that year, the Roslin Institute revealed their success in the field of cloning with the announcement of Dolly the sheep, the first creature to be cloned from adult, differentiated cells as opposed to the typical embryonic cells. This was a significant advance in the science of cloning. It undeniably groundbreaking, demonstrating the power of our latest technology. Dolly’s creation also reaffirmed our limitations in some ways. As it turned out, the Roslin Institute made over 430 cloning attempts before successfully producing Dolly, and she herself, once created, suffered a number of diseases uncommon in such a young animal, including arthritis by age four and Sheep Pulmonary Adenomatosis, spawning fatal lung tumors, by age six. Dolly, the world’s most controversial sheep, was euthanized on February 14th, 2003.

The Story Continues with the Next Post…

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