Sexy T-rex meets lecherous creationist

Charlie Stross has written a story, A Bird in Hand, which rather pushes a few boundaries. It’s about dinosaurs and sodomy, as the author’s backstory explains. And as everyone knows, every story is improved by adding one or the other of dinosaurs and sodomy, so it can’t help but be even better if you add both.

A note of caution, though: Charlie is really, really good at spinning out all the latest scientific buzzwords and deep molecular biological concepts into an extraordinarily plausible-sounding mechanism for rapidly recreating a dinosaur — it’s much, much better than Crichton’s painfully silly and superficial dino-blood-from-mosquitoes-spliced-with-frog-DNA BS — but I was a bit hung up on poking holes in it. It won’t be quite that easy, and it rather glibly elides all the trans-acting variations that have arisen in 70 million years and the magnitude of the developmental changes. But still, if we ever do manage to rebuild a quasi-dinosaur from avian stock, that’ll be sort of the approach that will be taken, I suspect. Just amplify the difficulty a few thousand fold.

Also, it’s way too technical to survive in the movie treatment.


  1. Holms says

    So, pretty much the same breezy, overconfident descriptions as used in predicting the imminent arrival of the space elevator?

  2. cartomancer says

    I don’t know much about DNA synthesis, but I might read it to poke holes in the sodomy instead…

  3. AndrewD says

    What would Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology say if someone pointed the story out to him? (Paging David M)

  4. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Hehehe, Charles Stross is very good when it comes to plausible jargon. A side-affect of being an unrepentant geek/computer nerd/etc!

  5. Le Chifforobe says

    Pffft. To bring the dinosaurs back, we don’t need any epigeneticery-pokery.

    We just need to raise millions and millions of a related animal — chickens, say — then remove their main predator and give them an environment similar to that in which the dinosaurs evolved. Convergent evolution should produce at least a few acceptable dinosauroids.

    The first step is to make the Earth much warmer…

  6. ChasCPeterson says

    “The role of short interfering RNA sequences in controlling POU transcription factor expression in Cairina moschata.” Her face wrinkled in an expression of infinite disgust. “Not actually a member of the Anatidae, but close enough for government work.”

    He didn’t italicize the Latin binomial. Pisses me off. Also, Cairina is too an anatid.

  7. says

    And as everyone knows, every story is improved by adding one or the other of dinosaurs and sodomy, so it can’t help but be even better if you add both.

    OK, I see what I’ve been doing wrong all these years. Whenever I’ve needed to juice up a story, I’ve added Daffy Duck and bowling. Now my writing career will really take off.

  8. whiskytangofoxtrot says

    To be fair, the frog thing was more Spielberg than Crichton. In the novel they spliced in DNA from several different animals in an attempt to grow viable organisms, only using frogs for a few species. It was the movie that had them just use frog DNA for everything.

  9. David Marjanović says

    Naaah, I won’t alert Darren.

    The story is a lot like JP in handwaving stuff away by technobabble, only more so. :-) And Bullockornis (and the other dromornithids) may have viciously ripped out the hearts of… palm trees; their diet, like that of Gastornis (including Diatryma), is still controversial.