‘Jurassic Park’ cloning of extinct mammals detailed by scientist
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Advances in genetic engineering and cloning have brought us no closer to resurrecting the dinosaurs for one simple reason – DNA does not survive long enough. The dinosaurs are estimated to have died some 66 million years ago when a six-mile-wide (10km) asteroid struck the planet off the coast of modern-day Mexico. DNA breaks down after some seven million years, so scientists are rather unlikely to find any genetic material in the fossil record.
But not all hope is lost, according to William Ausich, a Professor of Palaeontology at The Ohio State University, US.
Scientist have in the past discovered DNA in ancient mammoth remains, with plans to clone the giant elephant relative.
But rather than cloning dinosaurs from prehistoric DNA miraculously found in fossilised dino bones, what if scientists instead look to the dinosaurs’ modern relative – the bird?
Scientists agree today that birds are the only surviving dinosaurs that escaped the fiery inferno of the so-called Chicxulub impact.
And that means there may be remnant dino DNA waiting to be found somewhere in the genome of modern-day birds.
Are scientists on the cusp of resurrecting the mighty T.rex? (Image: GETTY)
The DNA of dinosaurs could not survive 66 million years of extinction (Image: GETTY)
Birds evolved from the smallest members of a family of meat-eating dinosaurs, known as theropods.
This is the same group of monsters that feature the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptor.
According to a 2018 study, scientists have already figured out what dino DNA may have looked like by studying birds and turtles.
The team, based at the University of Kent, found the genome of a theropod like the T.rex was very similar to that of a modern-day ostrich or chicken.
Unfortunately, Paul Barrett from the Museum of Natural History warned this does not mean scientists are ever going to resurrect dinosaurs.
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But Professor Ausich proposed a theoretical scenario in which fragments of dino DNA could be stitched to other DNA in a Frankenstein-like creation.
In an article penned for The Conservation, he said: “Just for fun, let’s imagine that somehow, sometime in the future, researchers came up with fragments of dinosaur DNA.
“With only fragments, scientists still could not make a complete dinosaur.
“Instead, they would have to combine the fragments with the DNA of a modern-day animal to create a living organism.”
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Scientists probably won’t bring the dinos back to life any time soon (Image: GETTY)
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This resulting creature would not be a dinosaur, per se, but rather a hybrid blended from the genetic material of birds or reptiles.
Steven Spielberg’s hit 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park explored this idea to gruesome results.
Based on the titular science-fiction novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park scientists combined fragments of dino DNA with frog DNA to resurrect the prehistoric monsters.
Future films in the franchise further expanded on the idea by creating entirely new species of dinos from the genetic code of various members of the animal kingdom.
Of course, all of the films ended in disaster so scientists might want to think twice before attempting to bring back the mighty T.rex.
The dinosaurs walked the Earth from about 179 million years ago until the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago.
British fossil hunter William Buckland is widely believed to have described the first dino discovery after discovering the megalosaurus between 1819 in 1824.
Since the groundbreaking discovery was made, palaeontologists have uncovered many of the mysteries surrounding these prehistoric creatures.
The biggest of them all, perhaps, is the idea many theropods were covered in feathers.