Can We Bring Back the Dinosaurs?


“‘Sue’ at Field Museum, Chicago” by mookiefl is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

By: Isabel D'mello, Journalist

The Dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago by a meteorite. Since then thousands of other species have met a similar fate, though admittedly not by a falling space rock. The question remains: can we get them back?

Most of us are familiar with the Jurassic Park idea — extracting dinosaur DNA from a mosquito suspended in amber — but would that really work? Finding insects in amber is actually quite common, but finding DNA isn’t. DNA starts degrading from the moment an animal dies, and the last dinosaurs have been dead for 65 million years. There might be a chance with more recent extinctions like the Tasmanian Tiger or Passenger Pigeon. In fact, scientists are experimenting with ways that could bring back Woolly Mammoths. Although, we can pretty much scrap the dreams of Jurassic Park.

However, all hope is not lost in restoring the dinosaurs. Since birds are their direct descendants, they have somewhat similar DNA. Editing the DNA of a bird could create a creature similar to a dinosaur. It won’t be an actual dinosaur but might carry over characteristics that lay dormant in bird DNA. Still, reverse engineering a dinosaur meets complications considering there is very little known of a dinosaur genome.

Even if the idea is possible, resurrecting a species will have serious implications on modern ecosystems. Jurassic Park did not exactly end well. So, maybe a better question is: should we?

Related Stories: