Jurassic World: Can we really resurrect dinosaurs?
This summer, the cinema began to show another part of the franchise of the “Jurassic Park” [ Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom ], which reinforces our love for dinosaurs, which has not faded since childhood. There is something exciting about the largest, most violent and “deadly” creatures that ever inhabited our planet. However, there was another benefit from these films - they aroused interest in dinosaur DNA.
The “Mr. DNA” scene from the very first film of the franchise is an excellent example of scientific communication, and the concept of extracting DNA from the bodies of pumped dinosaur blood of mosquitoes is a great example of fiction. But it is precisely that fiction.
Luckily, we recently deciphered the general structure of the dinosaur genome. The structure of the genome is a specific sequence of the arrangement of genes on the chromosomes of each species. And although different animals of the same species will have a different DNA structure, the general structure of the genome is the same for the entire species.
We began by identifying the most probable genome structure of these ancestors of birds and turtles, before tracking the changes that have occurred from then until today. This pedigree includes the appearance of dinosaurs and pterosaurs ~ 240 million years ago, it continues through the carnivorous dinosaurs ( theropods ), whose ranks include tyrannosaurs and velociraptors , and ends on birds.
Despite the fact that we have never stated about the successful extraction of dinosaur DNA, it seems that the question has frozen on everyone’s lips: does it all bring us closer to the emergence of a real Jurassic Park? In response, we say a firm “no”, and here's why.
First, the idea that inside the blood-sicking insects stored in amber, you can find intact DNA of dinosaurs, does not work. We have already found prehistoric mosquitoes with traces of dinosaur blood inside, but any DNA of blood has since long decayed since then. We were able to successfully isolate the blood of Neanderthals and woolly mammothsbut dinosaur DNA will be too old for that. The oldest DNA found was about a million years old, and to deal with dinosaurs, we would have to go at least 66 million years ago — realistically speaking, we are very far from this mark.
Secondly, even if we could extract dinosaur DNA, it would be chopped into millions of pieces, and we would have no idea how it should look. It would be like picking up the most difficult puzzle pieces in the world, without knowing what the final picture should look like, or whether all the pieces are in the set.
In the film about the Jurassic Park, scientists find these missing pieces and fill them with the frogs' DNA, but as a result you would get not a dinosaur, but some kind of hybrid, a “frog head”. These pieces of frog DNA could have been very bad at affecting a developing embryo. In addition, it would be immeasurably more logical to use the DNA of birds, rather than frogs, since they are more closely related to dinosaurs (but it would still not work).
Thirdly, the idea that you only need to get the molecular DNA chain, and voila, you are able to recreate the animal entirely - again, science fiction. DNA is the starting point, but the development of an animal in an egg is a very subtle dance of genes that turn on and off at the right time according to various prompts from the environment.
In short, you need the perfect dinosaur egg and all the complex chemistry it contains. In the book they created artificial eggs, in the films they used ostrich eggs. These approaches would not work, you can not stick the chicken DNA into the ostrich egg and hope to get the chicken (people really tried it). The same applies to velociraptor.
And we have not even begun to think about legislation, protest groups and the impact on the ecosystem.
So, we can not resurrect a dinosaur, but ... The
thing is that dinosaurs did not die at all. On the contrary, they live side by side with us. Birds did not emerge from dinosaurs as a result of evolution, birds are not close relatives of dinosaurs. Birds are dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs (including birds) survived at least four periods of extinction, and each time appeared in more diverse, strange and bizarre forms. A key element of our work is our theory that this ability of theirs is determined by their genome structure. We found that the bird and most of the non-flying dinosaurs have so many chromosomes (DNA packages). Such a number allows animals to create different variations, helping natural selection.
Nevertheless, although there are few chances for this, it is possible that in the future it will be possible to use the technology of the Jurassic park to help level some of the harm caused by people. Humanity witnessed the extinction of such well-known dinosaurs, like the dodo bird and the wandering pigeon.. DNA repair for these birds, which is only a few hundred years old, is a much more realistic proposition. It is also possible that the eggs of related species that still live today are suitable for this. Under suitable conditions, we may be able to use them to return some of these extinct species.