London, British scientists say they have pieced
together what dinosaur DNA looks like.
Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers
the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of
shapes and sizes.
This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to
a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180
But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no
plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.
Of course, there was one final challenge the dinosaurs could
not overcome – a massive asteroid impact 66 million years ago that
wiped out all dinosaur groups except the flying ones that developed
Recently, Prof. Darren Griffin’s team used mathematical
techniques to identify the possible genetic characteristics of the very
first dinosaurs. They did this by working backwards from their closest
modern-day relatives – birds and turtles.
Their results suggest that dinosaur DNA was probably
organised into many chunks – called chromosomes. Birds usually have
about 80 chromosomes – about three times the number humans
It notable that birds are among the most varied animal groups
on Earth. If, as Prof Griffin thinks, dinosaurs also had a large number
of chromosomes it might explain why they too came in such a range of
shapes and sizes.
“We think it generates variation. Having a lot of chromosomes enables
dinosaurs to shuffle their genes around much more than other types of
animals. This shuffling means that dinosaurs can evolve more quickly
and so help them survive so long as the planet changed,” Prof Griffin
Dr. Rebecca O’Connor, from the University of Kent, said: “The
fossil evidence and now our evidence reinforces the idea that rather
than birds and dinosaurs being distant relatives, they are one in the
same. The birds around us today are dinosaurs”.
As for hopes that we might be able capture ancient dinosaur
DNA from fossils, that looks doubtful.
Genetic material degrades over time, and the world record for
the survival of ancient DNA is one million years. Dinosaurs lived
between 66 and 245 million years ago.
However, the techniques being used by Prof. Griffin and his
colleagues may lead to an even more detailed understanding of what
dinosaur DNA was like.
But this won’t in itself allow us to recreate dinosaurs.
“We are not gong to have Jurassic Park anytime soon,” according to
“If you take the DNA of a chicken and put it into an ostrich egg you
won’t end up with a chicken or an ostrich. You will end up with nothing.
The same would be true of a velociraptor or a T. rex. It just wouldn’t
work,” the BBC reported.
Source: Oman News Agency