Say goodbye to your dreams of a real-life Jurassic Park. (Actually, why would you want a real-life Jurassic Park? Do you have a death wish? I’d rather not be eaten by a velociraptor, thanks.) Researchers in New Zealand have determined that DNA has a half-life of only 521 years, meaning that any dinosaur DNA a white-haired old scientist might happen to find in a chunk of amber will be so broken down as to be unreadable and, needless to say, uncloneable.
Even at ideal preservation conditions of −5 ºC, DNA would be unreadable after roughly 1.5 million years and effectively destroyed after 6.8 million; given that the last dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago, you can kiss your dreams of ever having that new cat-sized dino as a pet goodbye.
Says computational evolutionary biologist Simon Ho, “This confirms the widely held suspicion that claims of DNA from dinosaurs and ancient insects trapped in amber are incorrect.”
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like good news to me. As much as I love Jurassic Park, I don’t want to live it, and I’m not exactly displeased that some mad scientist won’t be able to clone a T-Rex. Now we just have to worry about someone accidentally bringing about the zombie apocalypse.