Can we clone dinosaurs? Can we revive the long gone beasts and put them in theme parks? Have the time of “Jurassic world” arrived?
A Nature letters publication called “Embryology of Early Jurassic dinosaur from China with evidence of preserved organic remains” told an exciting story about dinosaur embryology. So rare to find and so hard to study dinosaur eggs, they can give us tremendous amount of information on how our long gone predecessors looked like and how they evolved. Compared embryo bones from different species also allowed establishing the phylogenetic relations between them. Cutting edge technology and data processing was used to scan and image age-old fossils, hidden in thick layers of organic and inorganic matter of egg shells, salt deposits and minerals – powerful rays are focused on the samples to be able to screen, image and determine their intrinsic properties. Unlike previously used methods, the described method in the paper is capable of studying tissues in situ and hence – determining the biochemical composition of the fossil, finding precious compounds – products of the decomposition of the dinosaur embryo’s tissues.
If we can access the tissues of long gone species, can’t we then clone them? Unfortunately – so far the answer seems to be a firm no. We are experienced enough already in cloning excising species and creating chimeras, but cloning an organism gone for millions of years is a whole new story. As Matt Kaplan published, also in Nature, DNA breaks down naturally in about half a millennium. This means that we won’t be able to clone a Roman emperor, let alone a dinosaur any time soon, if ever.
So, un- or fortunately, based on most Hollywood scripts, dinosaurs won’t be walking the Earth again – we’re safe and our imaginations can work their magic trying to picture them and our minds – to study their fossilized remains.