We May Finally Know What Dinosaur DNA Looked Like, But Will Scientists Clone a T-Rex?
If you've seen Jurassic Park then you probably remember the scene where they are given a crash course in the science of bringing dinosaurs back to life via an amusement park ride video. The video featured a multi-colored animated character named Mr. DNA who explains that if scientists were to look at screens of DNA sequences, it would take years to go through. While that is factual, it turns out that scientists in 1993 had never ever seen dinosaur DNA. According to CNET, researchers at the University of Kent may have finally found a way to see what those strands looked like with a little help from birds and turtles.
While bones can be preserved in the Earth as fossils for millions of years, DNA is not as tough and breaks down significantly faster. Instead of extracting blood from mosquitos in amber, the team of researchers used modern-day avian and non-avian DNA and worked backwards to reconstruct what they say dinosaur DNA looked like. The research, published in Nature Communications, suggests that like birds, dinosaurs had a large number of chromosomes which might explain why there were so many kinds. "We think it generates variation," Professor Darren Griffin told BBC. "Having a lot of chromosomes enables dinosaurs to shuffle their genes around much more than other types of animals. This shuffling means that dinosaurs can evolve more quickly and so help them survive so long as the planet changed." Dr Rebecca O'Connor added that the new evidence supports the idea that birds and dinosaurs were not relatives, but were in fact "one in the same. The birds around us today are dinosaurs."
Having a better idea of what dino DNA looked like is cool and a major step forward, but it is not build-a-theme-park cool like Mr. DNA said it would be, according to Griffin. "We are not going to have Jurassic Park anytime soon," he said, explaining that "if you take the DNA of a chicken and put it into an ostrich egg you won't end up with a chicken or an ostrich. You will end up with nothing. The same would be true of a velociraptor or a T. rex. It just wouldn't work."