Preserved tissue found in T-Rex's thigh bone

We've all heard the premise before. A theme park of the future, where dinosaurs roam free in a recreated ecosystem that replicates that of eons ago. By the miracles of science, DNA was extracted from a mosquito fossilized in an amber tree. The DNA was then used to close said dinosaurs into living creatures. This was what made Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park,"TM the 1993 film adaptation of Michael Crichton's best selling novel, into one of the biggest films of all time.

Many people then and even now fluff off the idea of cloning dinosaurs DNA found in fossils as merely science fiction. But today, we find ourselves on the verge of a discovery that may possibly turn fiction into fact.

In the March 25 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lee Hotz reported that scientists have discovered soft tissue in the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This amazing discovery, the first of its kind, was found in Montana by a team of fossil hunters from North Carolina, and Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

The soft tissue was found in a thighbone of the T. Rex, who was over 40 feet tall and about 17 years old at the time of its death, some 70 million years ago. The discovery came by accident. The bone was cut in half to fit into a helicopter.

Paleontologists Mary H. Schweitzer from the University of North Carolina at Raleigh, and John R. Horner from Montana State University published their findings in the journal Science. The soft tissue was taken to a lab, and microscopic tests revealed brownish, oblong cells, dabs of red bone marrow, and elastic threads of veins. The tissue was found deep in the core of the segment of thighbone.

This discovery opens many questions scientists have about the dinosaurs; many of them will need much more research. One baffling aspect is that this raises the question as to how fossils are made. Conventional wisdom among paleontologists states that when dinosaurs died and became fossilized, soft tissues didn't preserve and the bones were essentially transformed into rocks through a gradual replacement of all organic material by minerals. However, this new discovery could literally turn that theory inside out.

"To my knowledge, preservation to this extent has not been noted in dinosaurs before," said Schweitzer in the Los Angeles Times.

The soft tissue will be studied further, and researchers hope it will lead to evidence of dinosaurs' direct lineage with modern birds. Under examination, according to Schweitzer, the lead researcher of the team, three different types of cells were found, and all looked very similar to the modern ostrich.

This finding also opens the doors to many new possibilities, one being the future cloning of dinosaurs. Though it must be stressed that if we ever develop the technology to actually extract DNA and clone dinosaurs, we are far from it at this point.

But, when and if the time arises where modern science can actually clone these creatures, one can't help but ponder the many ethical, and scientific issues that will arise.

Needless to say, teams of scientists from around the globe will be competing to be the first, so there needs to be regulation, not just in America, but in the global scientific community. But it will be an issue that affects everyone on the planet, so the average person needs to be informed. Cloning such creatures could have drastic results, to say the very least.

Even if parks on remote islands were created for these mighty creatures, what guarantees they will stay in one place? Common sense tells us that they will surely migrate to other parts of the globe in search of food and water. Instead of hearing on your local nightly news of people being mauled by lions, dinosaurs would attack people, and it wouldn't be pretty.

Not to mention the biological and ecological implications such creatures could bring. By introducing these animals into ecosystems that they were not meant to live in, we would be putting both them and all other animal species in grave danger.

But how can the average person make a difference? How can we ensure that some mad scientist doesn't illegally clone dinosaur before regulations, scientific issues and ethical concerns are heavily looked into?

Well, the first and foremost step is to educate your self. Stay up to date with science. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be aware. Simply reading different newspapers, journals, and other credited scientific web sites and publications is enough Once you have the knowledge, you can then take action by letting the government know how you feel. You can't be kept down on the issue if you are not ignorant of it.

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