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Extended Audio Sample How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesnt Have to Be Forever, by James Gorman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (320 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Gorman, Jack Horner Narrator: Patrick Lawlor Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In movies, in novels, in comic strips, and on television, we’ve all seen dinosaurs—or at least somebody’s educated guess of what they would look like. But what if it were possible to build, or grow, a real dinosaur without finding ancient DNA?

Jack Horner, the scientist who advised Steven Spielberg on the blockbuster film Jurassic Park and a pioneer in bringing paleontology into the twenty-first century, teams up with the editor of the New York Times' Science Times section to reveal exactly what’s in store.

In the 1980s, Horner began using CAT scans to look inside fossilized dinosaur eggs, and he and his colleagues have been delving deeper ever since. At North Carolina State University, Mary Schweitzer has extracted fossil molecules—proteins that survived 68 million years—from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil excavated by Horner. These proteins show that T. rex and the modern chicken are kissing cousins. At McGill University, Hans Larsson is manipulating a chicken embryo to awaken the dinosaur within—starting by getting it to grow a tail and eventually prompting it to grow the forelimbs of a dinosaur. All of this is happening without changing a single gene.

This incredible research is leading to discoveries and applications so profound that they’re scary in the power they confer on humanity. How to Build a Dinosaur is a tour of the hot rocky deserts and air-conditioned laboratories at the forefront of this scientific revolution.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Provocative.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Sure to appeal to dinosaur fans, this readable account of innovative science is recommended for public as well as academic library collections.”

    Library Journal

  • “Horner wants to introduce readers to ‘evo devo,’ a jazzy moniker for evolutionary development. But first he wants to tell a story—and it’s a good one…The polished narrative has a comfortable, intelligent flow…[It’s] evo devo for the everyday reader, with the personal stuff adding color.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Combining gross and molecular anatomy with genomic information, Horner believes, makes re-creating a dinosaur a genuine prospect that he urges his colleagues to pursue. Straight from the scientific frontier, Horner’s work should excite anyone who’s dreamed of walking with dinosaurs.”


  • “The authors cover highly technical scientific fields in a manner accessible to lay audiences, who will be captivated by Audie Award nominee Patrick Lawlor’s Mr. Wizard-like zeal.”

    Library Journal (audio review)

  • “Patrick Lawlor’s narration of Horner’s fascinating book is mostly enthusiastic and engaging, and he’s comfortable with the scientific jargon.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jae | 2/12/2014

    " I enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book immensely. The last part just seemed to drag on. I guess when it comes to creating this creature, not so intriguing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Douglas Summers.Stay | 2/9/2014

    " Jack Horner (one of those paleontologists who seems to show up in a lot of science films and Discover articles) talks about his plan to genetically manipulate a chicken to turn it into something like a dinosaur. His two points seem to be that a) we would learn a lot about how structures are formed in the body and b) it would be pretty awesome, with the emphasis on b). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Danielle T | 2/7/2014

    " I can't help but think if I actually finished this when I started it in summer of 2009 I might've found genetics/biochem sophomore year a lot more interesting and would've done better, but that's playing the coulda shoulda woulda game. Fascinating read, especially considering what it would take to produce atavistic features in a chicken. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Nicholas Lofaro | 2/2/2014

    " Anything about this science gets 5 stars because it's dinosaurs and dinosaurs always get 5 stars! haha! A quick read, more about imaginative science than perfect science, which is fun. Kids could read this, which is also important. Saw a special on 60 minutes about this concept and book, can't wait for a chickensaurus. "

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About the Author

James Gorman is deputy science editor of the New York Times and editor of its Science Times section. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including three with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner.