Paleontology

Can Scientistsclone Dinosaurs



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Can scientists clone dinosaurs? Are they allowed to clone dinosaurs would be a more accurate question, because the science is available, DNA from nearly intact dinosaur remains have been found, and it is widely believed that either alligator, platypus or bird eggs would be welcome and sustainable hosts for the growing embryos of young dinosaurs. Morals, however, keep getting in the way of scientific study.

Now, many of these animals that we want to clone may just be well above humans on the food chain, and they could even prove to be our destruction, but at least we tried, right? But, to whose advantage is cloning a dinosaur, the scientific community or the people who want to open dinosaur parks like in Stephen Spielberg's blockbuster Hollywood film "Jurassic Park". The atmosphere is different now than it was 65 to 250 million years ago, while these terrible lizards were prowling our home planet, and the foods that they ate, foraged and hunted is most likely as extinct as they are. What would they eat, where would they go, as we could not let them loose, they would have to be penned up in rigid, caged enclosures capable of keeping them in, and people out.

Maybe Janis Joplin was right, we really did pave paradise, and put in a parking lot.

Scientists have successfully cloned sheep, so why not dinosaurs? They would have to have an animal with at least a 99.95% genetic match for a successful cloning attempt. In humans, that number rises drastically, to almost one in one Trillion. Scientists would only be able to make a proper clone from a dinosaur with a close enough genetic match. A duck-billed platypus could be cloned with a duck-billed platypus. A T-Rex with a T-Rex. Many scientists were firm believers that they could use either the famed Galapagos Island Ghila Monster or a crocodile to clone dinosaurs with, but had later found that the DNA and RNA makeup was not as close as earlier thought.

Then conventional wisdom turned to birds. It seems that birds are the closest genetic match we have to the genetic makeup that has been developed so far with dinosaur remains. Avian cloning makes sense, as birds are almost the only land living animals left that lay eggs, as the dinosaurs did, and nurture a nest until their young can fend for themselves. Then it's every monster for themselves.

The problem with Hollywood's version of dinosaur cloning, as portrayed in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park", of using blood from a dinosaur found in the belly of a fossilized mosquito is that the insects were fossilized long after the dinosaurs were extinct. That and they would not have any proper hosts in which to grow the recombinant DNA, necessary in the cloning process.

The next best thing to cloning dinosaurs, and the one that would hold the most promise, is if Mammoth DNA were ever to be found intact and healthy, The Woolly Mammoth, not quite a dinosaur, but pretty darned close, has the best chances of the cloned due to it's relatively late extinction dates. The Mammoths were extinct Millions of years after the dinosaurs, many scientists predict as soon as 35,000 years ago. That would be 2,000 times less old as the dinosaurs, and the possibility of finding intact DNA insides the bones or fossilized skin of a Mammoth is much greater than that of a dinosaur. Especially when you bring to mind the fact that they found an intact Mammoth, preserved in th arctic ice.

Yet the problem of finding a host egg to grow the dinosaur is beyond our reach, even if we were to find healthy, complete dinosaur DNA. Are we stuck at the proverbial "which came first, the dinosaur or the egg" conflict? Yes, and probable rightly so. Do we have what they need to eat laying around, when we can't feed hundreds of millions of starving refugees? No, not even if they were vegetarian.

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