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Rather than dying out in the dimly lit aftermath of a ginormous asteroid impact, dinosaurs on Earth may have instead spread to other planets and built a terrifying space-conquering empire. Organic chemistry expert Prof Ronald Breslow has suggested from new research into DNA that the Jurassic Park monsters may in fact be living …

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Pint

FTL Velociraptors

Couldn't you get the dinosaurs to bugger off on big spaceships in SimEarth after you'd achieved nanotech?

Beer, as the Vogons are coming...

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Pint

Re: FTL Velociraptors

And a packet of peanuts I trust

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Happy

Re: FTL Velociraptors

And don't forget your towel.

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FAIL

Star Trek Voyager already did this

And it wasn't their idea.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Star Trek Voyager already did this

YOU KNOW IM STARTING TO SERIOUSLY DOUBT THAT MONSTER ALIENS EVEN EXIST WHICH ONE WAS VOYAGER WAS THAT THE ONE THAT HAD BOB DYLAN SINGING THE THEME SONG

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Go

Re: Star Trek Voyager already did this

Also Dr. McNinja: http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/20p17/

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Why somewhere else?

Why are some parts of science always looking for ET source for original Organic compounds? They had to start somewhere, so surely the most likely explanation is that the ones we have arose (by whatever mechanism) here. They seem to be anxious to have a "creation myth".

Also creatures don't "spring forth" from DNA. Unless you are one of those tiny creatures in the ocean or a Bacteria then Sex between Adults is required. Resulting in eggs or live birthed young.

So both papers seem as likely as Scientology.

If you think life "evolved" rather than "special creation", why not evolved here from scratch. Also if "life" can do it here, then probably "life" arises EVERYWHERE the conditions are suitable, which is likely not limited to our Terran environment. Or if they claim it came on an Meteor where did it start, or was it always somewhere since the Big Bang (Turtles all the way down).

Lets have some logic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why somewhere else?

You must be reading a different article. At no point did I read anything about a creator, creation myth, intelligent design or anything else of a similar vein.

The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe is nearly 14 billion years old. This means that there was up to 9 billion years for life to evolve elsewhere before the Earth even existed. That is plenty of time for meteor strikes on other worlds to transport genetic materials throughout the Universe. Whether these materials would be enough to seed other worlds is a different matter altogether. The answer as to whether the Earth was seeded with life via meteorites or if it came about independently will depend upon how easily life evolves from the basic building blocks. If it is easy then the odds are that it evolved here independently, If it is difficult then the odds are it was seeded through meteorites bearing the necessary complex amino acids.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why somewhere else?

But you don't have a problem with multicellular organisms springing forth from single celled ones? And asexual reproduction happens in many many complex organisms, up to and including some species of shark. And dropping the right sort of genetic material into just the right soup of acids will cause proteins to form. So I don't quite understand your hostility towards this paper.

The lizards bit is unlikely I think. But the non-random distribution of chirality in species on Earth is a problem that a extra-terrestrial source of amino acids would explain neatly.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Dinosaurs all the way down.

"the non-random distribution of chirality in species on Earth is a problem that a extra-terrestrial source of amino acids would explain neatly."

I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

"I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here" "

Because there are tens, hundreds, of thousands of "somewhere else", multiplied by billions of years for every "here"

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Re: Why somewhere else?

But if it came from somewhere else, how did *that* get started...? Either it's possible to evolve life from building blocks, or it isn't. If it is, then all the building blocks existed on Earth so there's no particular obstacle. If it isn't, then someone outside the Universe set it up.

TBH, chirality is just one of the "why on earth is it like that?" evolutionary oddities, like the blind spot in the human retina. I've no argument with people looking for better reasons, but it's a mistake to think that "it just happened that way" is not an equally valid answer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why somewhere else?

> Either it's possible to evolve life from building blocks, or it isn't. If it is, then all the building blocks existed on Earth so there's no particular obstacle.

If the chances of it evolving on any particular planet are 1 in ten billion in any given year then the chances are it would not have evolved here. Since there are probably billions of planets out there the chances are it has evolved on at least some of them and then spread from those planets.

If the chances of it evolving on any particular planet are 1 in a million in any given year then the chances are it will have evolved here.

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Happy

Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

" I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here". "

Because no-one has yet worked out any mechanism or reason why one handedness should be preferred over another, so currently the only solution to the handedness problem is that all (left-handed) life evolved from an extremely tiny set of amino acids / proteins, all of which were left-handed.

If we are taking this option of equal chances of handedness, if life evolved locally we would expect some life-forms (even past extinct ones) to have right-handed DNA. So either the chances of independent formation are so vanishingly small that all life started locally from a single set of amino acids / proteins that happened to be left-handed, or else life developed equally in left and right-handed versions somewhere else, but Earth got seeded with meteorites containing only left-handed amino acids / proteins.

Either way we are talking about ridiculously tiny probabilities of a single event from which ALL subsequent life on earth evolved (ie life on Earth is a stupendously rare coincidence)

On the other hand, maybe the basic assumption baked into the whole argument is wrong, maybe there is a physical / biochemical reason why left-handed amino acids / proteins evolve to life as we know it, and right-handed ones don't, but we don't know of any such mechanism yet. I'd be interested to hear if anyone had any knowledge of any experiment with synthesising right-handed amino acids / proteins and see whether they behave in 'life-like' fashion

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Re: Why somewhere else?

"The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe is nearly 14 billion years old. This means that there was up to 9 billion years for life to evolve elsewhere before the Earth even existed."

sorry, your maths is wrong because in this case 9 is not the answer, it took billions of years for the elements upon which "life as we know it (Jim)" to be created in early generation stars, and then spread around the universe and then conglomerated to form planets.

So probably much closer to 3 or 4 billion at most.

And at fairly low speeds, that material then needs to get to another planet, and then fluke into some situation where the DNA could actually do something - odds for example of a bit of chicken aka dinosaur DNA doing anything are roughly zero. Maybe a bacteria but then, you have to give it another 3 billion years to evolve to dinosaur alien overlord type of life (it took several billion years for life here to spew enough waste product (oxygen) for large life forms to be able to exist.)

So all in all, not much time at all and certainly not 9 billion years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

It's been done. A number of proteins and peptides have been made with the "unnatural" D-amino acids and shown to behave in an enantiomeric way i.e. only act on mirror image substances. The most spectacular example is probably the HIV protease (original paper in Science only accessible to subscribers).

The Reg article is rather a misrepresentation of Breslow's paper - the dino bit is a throwaway comment at the very end of the article. The rest actually implies the amino acids are made chiral in space under the influence of circularly polarised light (that theory has been about some while). The only significant flaw I can see is that he proposes transfer of chirality on Earth in a transamination reaction involving copper(II) ions, but as the early Earth atmosphere is supposed to have been reducing, I'm not sure of the availability of copper(II).

Hara's paper is a careful calculation of the probability of material moving from one solar system to another, but they acknowledge that it is difficult to estimate the likelihood of anything remaining viable during the trip.

My bet is that life will be almost equally divided between the 2 enantiomeric regimes, but there will be a nagging and unexplained slight excess of one over the other...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

"Because no-one has yet worked out any mechanism or reason why one handedness should be preferred over another...."

Because the first complex organism used right handed RNA (DNA not yet being developed), and patented using right handed nucleic acids in life processes, so everybody else used left handed to avoid the patent.

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Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

"I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here"."

I think he was talking about if life forms were found on other planets were "left handed" so to speak genetically like Earth. Far more likely that these building blocks are all over the galaxy than the basic building blocks started here and spread all over the galaxy.

Obviously its just a thought exercise at this point, if we discover microbes on Mars or something it may shed a bit more light, but right now the evidence we have supports either option.

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Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

We are still struggling to explain why the universe we live in is mainly made up of matter since equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created in the big bang (if you believe in that, which I'm sceptical of). Nature, it would seem, prefers to pick a method and stick to it. I also recall seeing an article about how the affects of photons from particular stars can cause amino acids to form in one handedness over another. There will be an explanation, we just haven't found it yet.

I think, though, that this is yet another BS article from El Reg that takes a reasonable hypothesis and shits all over it with sensational National Enquirer like hyperbole. The man said that it's possible the amino acids on Earth originated elsewhere and it's also possible that DNA from our planet has headed out into the cosmos. He did not suggest in the slightest that dinosaurs built space ships and flew away.

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Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

Good god, someone give this man/woman a job! This is what writing on El Reg used to be like! Thank you my anonymous coward friend for restoring my faith in reasoned and intelligent argument!

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Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

Doubtful - a half competent patent attorney would advise claims covering both left and right handed chiralities. To do otherwise would be to deny the patentee a fair scope of protection for their invention. Not much point in holding a patent that can easily be designed around.

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Facepalm

Sounds likely.

About as likely as me schtooping Monica Bellucci.

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Happy

Re: Sounds likely.

Hey Puppy, be more optimistic:

http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Million-to-one_chance

Which means that it will happen 9 times out of ten!

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Devil

Re: Sounds likely.

How was she?

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Headmaster

"L-shaped amino acids"?

The L and D aren't used because that's the shape the substance is. They stand for "Laevo" and "Dextro", which respectively mean "left" and "right".

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Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

Why not Sinistro and Dextro?

(honest question)

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Headmaster

Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

Good question. It's because "sinister" and "dexter" refer specifically to the left hand and right hand sides of an object, whereas "laevo" and "dextro" refer to the absolute directions. It's the difference between saying "take the road to your left" and "turn left", if you see what I mean.

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Re: Good question.

Is that anything like this...

I'm standing on a ship facing aft. To my left is the ship's starboard side.

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Headmaster

Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

And the "left" and "right" refer, of course, to the rotation of the plane of polarisation of light (Sodium D-line light) passing through a solution of the material.

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Pint

Oh, it must be Friday, then?

Off for a beer!

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Alien

Nazi Space Raptor will meet you now!

Even humans have arses too big too comfortably lift up and accelerate to appreciable speed. I do not think Trannysaurus will drop down in a vehicular device soon. And then again, why not meet them? Because lizard races are hollywoodian ungood?

Anyway, I remember some paper about how the chirality comes about due to [the magic of] galactic magnetic fields working on amino acids buried in comets. So there.

And on a far planet, we read:

"Death Star ape aliens could rule galaxy!!- Rather than dying out in the dimly lit aftermath of a ginormous asteroid impact, apes on Earth may have instead spread to other planets and built a terrifying space-conquering empire...."

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Coat

Re: Nazi Space Raptor will meet you now!

"Trannysaurus"

I think that they are still with us. Saw a film clip of them in a parade in San Francisco.

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Happy

Question:

What were these guys smoking?

I want some

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Re: Question:

Even if they shared it with us, their weed has an inverse chirality for our brains' receptors.

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Explains nothing

If they think the predominance of laevo amino acids dextro sugars on earth is suprising then it would be just as suprising for the same thing to happen on another planet. Why would meteor transport favour a particular chirality?

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Re: Explains nothing

Probably wouldn't - unless it carried a VERY small amount - i.e. just a few molecules.

Then there is a (reasonable) chance that they'd all be L or D.

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Re: Explains nothing

The odds of generating a meteor with specific chirality are assumed to be better than if it is happening in billions of places across the surface of the planet. If the meteor lands and those bits become the basis of the proteins and sugars for the planets, it is reasonable for the planet to have a homogenous environment.

All that being said, this is way out on the speculative edge - way way outside science and much more in mythology, except the boffins with all the letters strung behind their names don't like to admit it.

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Re: Explains nothing

According to this article a meteor could transport only left microbes if, like with the asteroid impact on earth, it came from a planet that had already evolved "left based" life.

But as a starting point on its own, it could of course carry either.

As side note, How long before Spielberg has T Rex's roaming across Pandora for Jurassic Park 4? In 3D of course...

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Astrosaurs

I prefer the idea that most of the dinosaurs left before the extinction event.

Dinosaurs - in spaaaaace!

http://www.stevecolebooks.co.uk/series/astrosaurs/books/

Easier reading than a paper on DNA

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Re: Astrosaurs

"I prefer the idea that most of the dinosaurs left before the extinction event."

You may prefer it but it is now known that it was the DOLPHINS that left (playfully) before the extinction event

Cheers Douglas

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@Chemist

and don't forget the mice.

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Thumb Up

Re: Astrosaurs

Yes, those are funny.

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Happy

Re: Astrosaurs

Also Dinosaur Wars

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Anonymous Coward

wasn't this in a star trek voyager episode

Is this a case of star trek designing the future, again?

;)

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Coffee/keyboard

@Destroy All Monsters - Trannysaurus? You owe me a new keyboard good sir/madam/space-dino!

Mine's the one with the slightly damp keyboard cloth in the pocket.

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Coat

Ewwwww.

"the slightly damp keyboard cloth"

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FAIL

Repeat

Someone's been watching a Voyager re-run while stoned again haven't you?

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Flame

Re: Repeat

Actually! everyone who says "Voyager episode : Distant Origin 1997" did it first your FAIL ^_~

It was the main "reveal" of the final episode of "Space : Above and Beyond" 1995-1996

Turned out the "Chigs" (aliens bad-guys) were actually descended from either Bacteria and/or Dino's DNA f early earth. It was spread across the galaxy when the Asteroid that killed the Dion's hit earth...

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FAIL

Re: Repeat

I never said they did it first

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