Picture this: You finally get off the school bus at your stop and walk towards your house. All of a sudden, your pet Velociraptor comes rushing at you, tongue out and ready to be pet. Everyone knows the famous Jurassic Park series and the more recent Jurassic World series. However, is the science behind these successful movies legit? Would scientists actually be able to recreate such an absurd scenario?
With the second movie of the franchise coming out on June 22, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom depicts a scenario in which dinosaurs escape the island and roam around the world, making the Earth an actual “Jurassic World”. The science behind bringing back these dinosaurs go back to the first franchise, Jurassic Park, where a paleontologist discovers an amber with a mosquito fossilized within the amber. By extracting the dinosaurian DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) from the mosquito, scientists were able to recreate the dinosaurs.
Although there have been many scientific breakthroughs regarding cloning and genetic splicing, geneticists claim that that obtaining dinosaur DNA is immensely more difficult than one may believe. Because resin is very porous on a molecular level, gases travel in and out of the resin which deteriorates the DNA. This leads to DNA being nearly impossible to obtain through resin or fossils. There had been a study in 2013 by the University of Manchester where they found insects preserved in tree resin, ranging from 60 years old to 10,000 years old, but they were able to conclude that no DNA was yielded from any of the test subjects.
There have been many occasions in which scientists have been successful in cloning, but only in cases in which the test subjects were still alive. In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult sheep cell. This was revolutionary: her birth opened many doors to new possibilities. More recently, geneticists talked about bringing the wooly mammoth back by implanting cells into a close relative, the elephant. As there are many variables that line up to bring back dinosaurs, the key factor of obtaining DNA from extinct dinosaurs has stumped researchers and scientists from bringing back these magnificent yet terrorizing creatures that roamed the earth before we did.