Sunday, April 15, 2012

Advanced dinosaurs

I confess that one of my interests is in  seeing how science papers are reported by the press. Sometimes the connection between the paper and the story that is reported is a little tenuous to say the least.

For example, would you have reported this paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society:  Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth

in this way:

Could 'Advanced' Dinosaurs Rule Other Planets?
New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs -- monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans -- may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe.

The authors of the paper do set themselves up for this by including this by slipping in this rather far-reaching statement at the end of the paper:
An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on d-amino acids and l-sugars, depending on the chirality of circular polarized light in that sector of the universe or whatever other process operated to favor the l-α-methyl amino acids in the meteorites that have landed on Earth. Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth. We would be better off not meeting them. 

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