Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pleistocene Park

So remember in Jurassic Park how they thought if someone uncovered dinosaur DNA we'd be able to clone dinosaurs? According to Jack Horner, that doesn't work. In fact, they actually tried it because some dinosaur DNA was discovered. But nothing happened. Instead, as I described previously, Horner argues that the way to reconstruct dinosaurs is to "fix the chicken." So far, scientists have managed to produce a chicken with teeth (although I don't think they've been able to reactivate most of the other dormant genes).

However, a new possibility for cloning and restoring extinct life has just arrived. Dinosaurs are just too old-- all we have left are fossils. We have bones (rather than fossils-- fossils being rock deposits that slowly take the place of bones) from the Pleistocene Era (which includes the last ice age). And now, we have a lot more than that. Scientists have recently uncovered a frozen mammoth that still has blood in it's veins. This means that we can learn more than ever before about these creatures, but it also means that there is plenty of DNA. And, if scientists can re-germinate a plant from 32,000 years ago, then there's a good chance that they can grow a baby mammoth. Maybe in the next 50 years, they'll make a Pleistocene Park.

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