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Is it possible to create dinosaurs from their DNA?

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Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to SnapCountry@theconversation.com.


Is it possible to obtain dinosaur DNA and reconstruct it? – Lucy R., age 5, Atlanta, Georgia


As a paleontologist—that is, a scientist who studies ancient life—I get asked this question all the time. ) used DNA to recreate dozens of dinosaurs: Triceratops, Velociraptor and T. Rex.

And if you’ve seen any of the movies You’re going to wonder: Can scientists do that today?

Brachiosaurus Wander through the primeval landscape.
BrachiosaurusHerbivores from the Jurassic period. Behind the scenes: Pterosaur herds.
dottedhippo/iStock via Getty Images Plus

ABCs of DNA

DNA – which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid – is present in every cell of every living thing that ever lived on Earth – including dinosaurs.

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Think of DNA as the molecule that carries the genetic code. This is a set of instructions that help the body and mind grow and thrive.

Your DNA is different from someone else’s. It determines many characteristics that determine who you are, such as the color of your eyes or whether your hair is straight or curly.

DNA is much easier to find in The “soft parts” of animals, organs, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and fat.

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But the soft parts of the dinosaurs are long gone. They decomposed or were eaten by other dinosaurs.

Skeleton of _T Rex_
Made of fossils: the skeleton of a T. Rex.
JaysonPhotography/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Is DNA in the fossil?

Dinosaur fossils are the only remnants of those prehistoric beasts.

These fossils have been buried in mud, minerals and ancient water for tens of millions of years. These fossils come from the so-called The “hard parts” of dinosaurs are its bones, teeth and skull.

We found dinosaur fossils on the ground. in rivers and lakes and along cliffs and mountains Every time someone finds one in their backyard

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Often they are near the surface. and are often embedded in sedimentary rocks

when there are enough fossils Scientists can reconstruct dinosaur skeletons which is what you see when you go to a museum

Parasaurolophus dinosaur fossils
fossil of parasaurolophusDinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous period in present-day North America.
Kevin Schafer/The Image Bank via Getty Images

problems with ‘Dino-DNA’

But scientists have a big problem when trying to find DNA in dinosaur fossils.

DNA molecules will eventually break down. Recent studies have shown that DNA deteriorates and eventually decays after about 7 million years.

sounds like a long time But the last dinosaur died at the end of the Cretaceous period, that is, over 65 million years ago.

Dig up fossils today, and any dinos’ DNA inside would have long since decayed.

that means as far as scientists know and even using the best technology available today It is still not possible to create a dinosaur from its DNA.

Although it’s too late to find the dino’s DNA, scientists recently stumbled upon something almost intriguing.

They found DNA fragments in the fossils of Neanderthals and other ancient mammals, such as woolly mammoths.

It makes sense now. Those fragments were less than 2 million years old before all of the DNA decayed.

Dinosaurs watched an asteroid hit Earth.
Illustration of artist A T. Rex Watch an asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago. An asteroid crash caused an extinction event that killed the dinosaurs.
Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Think about it for a moment…

Just imagine, in the future, researchers get fragments of dinosaur DNA.

Scientists have not yet been able to create a complete dinosaur.

They must combine the fragments with modern animal DNA to create a creature.

However, the creature cannot really be called a dinosaur. But it’s probably a hybrid. combination of dinosaurs and probably a bird or a reptile

Do you think it’s a good idea? After all, the scientists in the movie “Jurassic” tried to do just that. and you know what happened there


Hello curious children! Do you have a question you want an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com Please include your name, age and city of residence.

And since curiosity has no adult age limit, let us know what you’re curious about as well. We won’t be able to answer every question. but we will do our best

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