Two of the papers published in PLoS ONE this week generated some dinosaur-based headlines, although only one of the studies actually involved any dinosaurs, as anyone who has read the freely-available articles will know.
On Tuesday, PLoS ONE published a study (Resurrection of DNA Function In Vivo from an Extinct Genome) by Andrew Pask and colleagues at the University of Melbourne, in which the researchers inserted genes extracted from Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) samples into mice. The Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since the 1930s and this is the first time that DNA (which was extracted from specimens at Museum Victoria in Melbourne) from an extinct animal has functioned inside a living host. The article received an enormous amount of media coverage both Down Under and further afield, some – although not all – of the journalists picking up on the Jurassic Park associations. You can listen to the authors on NPR’s Science Friday (Extinct Genes Resurrected) and on Voice of America (Australian, US Scientists Bring Extinct Gene Back From Dead) and here is some of the main news and blog coverage of the story:
New Scientist – Tasmanian tiger DNA 'lives' again
Nature – Tasmanian tiger gene lives again
BBC News – Tasmanian tiger DNA 'resurrected'
The Guardian – Extinct animal's DNA reactivated
The Telegraph – Extinct 'tiger' DNA implanted in mouse cells
The Independent – 'Jurassic Park' technique resurrects extinct DNA
The Daily Mail – Extinct Tasmanian tiger could roar back into life after DNA is implanted into a mouse
Live Science – Extinct Tasmanian Tiger's DNA Revived in Mice
Reuters – Extinct Australian Tiger gene functions in mouse
The Australian – Tasmanian tiger lives in a mouse
The Mercury, Australia – Marsupial madness
Wired News – Extinct Tiger Roars in a Mouse
Greg Laden’s Blog – Resurrection of DNA Function from an Extinct Genome
Gene Expression – Tasmanian Tigers are back!
Palaeoblog – Genes From Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Resurrected
io9 – Resurrecting the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger from Preserved DNA
Slashdot – Bits of Tassie Tiger Brought Back from Extinction
As if this wasn’t enough excitement for one week, one of the other 60 papers published in PLoS ONE this week was by Anne Schulp, Mohammed Al-Wosabi and Nancy Stevens and reported the researchers’ discovery of dinosaur trackways in Yemen, which documented a sauropod herd of large and small individuals travelling together. In this kind of study, everyone wants to see what these tracks actually look like and Figure 1 in the article pictured the dinosaur trackways; some bloggers reused the figure in their posts (citing the journal and the authors), which they could do because it was published under the Creative Commons Attribution License.
The study was picked up by the Associated Press (Dinosaur tracks found on Arabian Peninsula), leading to over 150 hits on Google News, at the last count. Other coverage garnered by the paper included the following news stories and blog posts:
Scientific American – Dinosaur Tracks Discovered on Arabian Peninsula
National Geographic – Rare Dinosaur Tracks Found on Arabian Peninsula
Reuters – First dinosaur tracks found in Arabian Peninsula
BBC News – New dinosaur tracks discovered
The Independent – Frozen in time beneath the desert heat: dinosaur footprints
The Daily Mail – Dinosaur tracks discovered in Arabian peninsula
Live Science – First Dinosaur Footprints Found on Arabian Peninsula
The Great Beyond – Dinosaur round up: Yemen, Colorado, Alaska
Afarensis – Dinosaur Tracks from Yemen
io9 – The Great Dinosaur Herds of the Middle East
Palaeoblog – First Dinosaur Trackway From Yemen
Of course, PLoS ONE is still getting plenty of traffic from the last dinosaur paper we published, Paul Sereno’s Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur, which is still being discussed online both on the paper and in the blogosphere.