Published on November 20th, 20120
Jurassic Park killed off by DNA data study
A bad news for those who dream to bring dinosaurs to life using ancient DNA samples: a recent study showed that genetic material is maintained for up to a million years.
An international team of researchers has discovered this after analyzing DNA extracted from the bones of moa, a bird that lived in New Zealand until the XIV century. Scientists have found that short fragments of DNA can survive even a million years, but more than 30 sequences of biological nitrogen bases were a period of about 158,000 years under certain conditions.
Dr. Morten Allentoff Murdoch University, wrote the study, says that its results contradict previous research the authors announced the successful extraction of bones of dinosaurs DNA fragments containing hundreds of nitrogenous bases. These studies were the inspiration for the movie Jurassic Park.
“Our research shows that DNA degrades at a rate too fast ever to allow bringing to life dinosaurs”, says Allentoff.
“It may be that you can have extremely short fragments of DNA, only a few base pairs that persist for maybe a million years, maybe even longer”, the researcher added.
Allentoff think it is possible that previous research has reached a wrong result due to contamination with human DNA.
The study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B also estimated a “decay rate” of DNA that can be used to identify specimens with the best chance to contain useful genetic material. Also, this rate will be used in the future for the dating of bones and teeth and there is the potential that this new method may be useful to forensic experts in dating human remains.
This idea was first set out in the 70s, but subsequent studies have failed to obtain conclusive data. “One of the reason is that the environment has a great influence upon the evidence, and soil temperatures varying from place to place”, related the researcher. To avoid such problems researchers used moa bones excavated from three sites within a range of 5 km.
The next step, according Allentoft is identifying how environmental factors affect the rate of decomposition of DNA to obtain a more accurate model its rate of degradation.