Ever since the iconic movie Jurassic Park was released 30 years ago, the dream of creating a dinosaur island has become an integral part of our culture. But how close are we to making that dream a reality? Can we clone dinosaurs and create a real Jurassic Park?
Cloning has come a long way since Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned in 1996. But the science of dinosaur cloning still faces many obstacles. So what are the challenges along the way?
Extracting the dinosaur genome
Cloning dinosaurs requires their DNA. Mr. DNA from “Jurassic Park” claimed that the blueprints for making living creatures were left by animals that went extinct millions of years ago. And it’s true. The method for extracting the dinosaur genome relies on blood-sucking mosquitoes, which existed millions of years ago. But even if we find samples containing dinosaur DNA, the question arises: can we use them for cloning?
Problems with DNA extraction
One of the main obstacles to cloning dinosaurs is that large and fragile molecules, such as DNA, cannot survive fossilization. Mosquitoes infused with dinosaur blood may survive in stone or amber, but their DNA is usually destroyed over millions of years.
Also, amber fossils can freeze organisms over time and preserve remarkable and subtle details, but the insides of organisms are not preserved. This means that even if we find samples containing dinosaur DNA, we cannot use them for cloning.
Dinosaur researcher at the Natural History Museum of London (NHM) Dr. Susie Maidment argues that no blood has been found inside the insects in amber, so no dinosaur DNA can be extracted from such samples.
However, some scientists are still hopeful about the possibility of cloning dinosaurs. In 2015, a group of scientists announced their intention to use genetically modified chickens to create dinosaurs. They believe that chickens have a sufficiently similar genome to dinosaurs and could be used to create hybrids.
Thus, to date, dinosaur cloning technology does not allow for the creation of a true Jurassic Park. Although we can find specimens with dinosaur DNA, we cannot use them for cloning because of problems with DNA extraction. Some scientists are still hopeful about the possibility of creating dinosaurs using genetically modified chickens, but for now it remains just a theory.