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

million years.

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

into birds.

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

possess.

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

said.

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

Prof Griffin.

“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