SCIENTISTS have announced a major breakthrough in the bid to bring dinosaurs back to life which could see Jurassic Park become a reality.
BY NERTI U. QATJA, @VOP_TODAY – SOURCE: SEAN MARTIN, Express
Experts say the discovery of the remains of a tyrannosaurus rex which was pregnant when it died coupled with advances in genome sequencing has put a blockbuster-style regeneration project within grasp.
In the 1993 smash-hit film billionaire businessman John Hammond – played by the late Richard Attenborough – brings the extinct beasts back to life by using blood found in a pre-historic mosquito, with disastrous consequences.
Lindsay Zanno, assistant research professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University, said that it “is possible” that the dinosaur and its medullary bone contains the necessary DNA – which is the building blocks for life – to take scientists a step closer to reintroducing dinosaurs to the world.
Modern-day birds are closely related to the ancient rulers of the world and present the likeliest first step in trying to bring the dinosaurs back to life.
Avian dinosaurs such as the Archaeopteryx had tubular fibulas which reached all the way down to the ankle alongside the tibia – as opposed to chicken fibulas which only go about three quarters of the way down the tibia.
Chickens look very similar to dinosaurs when they are developing in the egg, so the researchers shut off a bone maturation gene called IHH or Indian Hedgehog which meant that the chicken developed long, tubular fibulas, like a dinosaur.
“Birds are modern-day dinosaurs, but they no longer look like dinosaurs.
“Deep within their DNA, however, will be information relating to the time when they did, and a combination of selective breeding and gene technology will be used to give them the characteristic features of dinosaurs – the jaws with teeth, the tail, the small forelimbs.
“Biologists will succeed in using that buried information to ring the desired characteristics to the fore.”
She told the Telegraph: “We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today.
“The most famous of these is the Archaeopteryx, a fossil which clearly shows the transition between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds.
“This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today’s birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits
However, she added that the difficulty lies in not knowing a dinosaur’s genome in its entirety, as dinosaur DNA has only been discovered in short fragments, meaning the scientists don’t know how to completely edit a bird’s DNA to match.
This means that scientists would have to combine together millions of short fragments in the precise order to make the correct DNA.
Dr Woollard added: “In theory we could use our knowledge of the genetic relationship of birds to dinosaurs to ‘design’ the genome of a dinosaur.”