Although scientists have uncovered many dinosaur bones millions of years old, they couldn’t get a sample of DNA because it already broke down. But according to researchers from the University of Kent, they can predict how the dinosaurs’ DNA looked like using a different method.
We Won’t Have a Jurassic Park In Real Life
Genetics helped these ancient creatures evolve and develop different shapes or sizes to adapt to the ever-changing environment – they were around on Earth for 180 million years! However, the massive asteroid that crashed into Earth 66 million years ago was the end of these amazing creatures, except for a small part of them: the flying ones which are the ancestors of today’s birds.
You might think that genetics is the beginning of the Jurrasic Park script, but researchers said that they would not recreate dinosaurs.
Using mathematical techniques, Prof. Darren Griffin’s team identified the genetic characteristics that might have belonged to an early dinosaur species. They calculated backward from the closest relatives that live today: birds and turtles.
Chunks of Chromosomes – The Different Shape and Size of Dinosaurs
The team found out that dinosaur DNA was most likely organized into many chromosomes, considering that birds also have almost 80 chromosomes (approximately three times the number of humans’ chromosomes). Birds also come in varied sizes and species, and Prof. Griffin argues that a large number of chromosomes was the cause of the wide range of size and shapes of dinosaurs:
“We think it generates variation. Having a lot of chromosomes enables dinosaurs to shuffle their genes around much more than other types of animals. This shuffling means that dinosaurs can evolve more quickly and so help them survive so long as the planet changed.”
University of Kent’s Dr. Rebecca O’Connor highlights that fossil evidence and the theory proposed by Prof. Griffin reinforce “the idea that rather than birds and dinosaurs being distant relatives, they are one in the same. The birds around us today are dinosaurs.”
Unfortunately, scientists cannot capture ancient dinosaur DNA from dinosaur fossils. The oldest DNA that survived in time was from a fossil that was a million-years-old, and dinosaurs last lived almost 66 million years ago.
Prof Griffin concludes that:
“We are not going to have Jurassic Park anytime soon. If you take the DNA of a chicken and put it into an ostrich egg you won’t end up with a chicken or an ostrich. You will end up with nothing. The same would be true of a velociraptor or a T. rex. It just wouldn’t work.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere