(Yahoo) – Don’t pretend you’ve never thought about it. Yes, yes – there’s the odd teensy downside to populating an island with once-extinct reptiles. Sure, the T rex turns out to show a disregard for road safety. And velociraptors’ approach to hide and seek is frankly unsportsmanlike. But the majestic song of the brachiosaurus! The incredible dino-flocks! The glistening magnificence of Jeff Goldblum’s chest rug! Could Jurassic Park happen in real life?


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Back in 1993, it seemed like it. Newsweek ran an article attesting to the scientific plausibility of Jurassic Park, pointing to the fact that – during filming – two Berkeley scientists announced that they had cloned 40m-year-old bee DNA after finding the insect preserved in amber. “This movie depends on credibility,” Spielberg told Newsweek. “The credibility of the premise – that dinosaurs could come back to life through cloning – is what allowed the movie to be made.”

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But there were problems even then. To replicate a dinosaur genome, you would need billions of DNA’s building blocks, base pairs. But none of the ancient DNA they harvested had more than 250. Which is like unboxing a 10,000-piece T rex jigsaw to find two corner pieces and a bit of tooth.

And, in the last few years, the University of Manchester’s amber-based experiments have shown that the bee DNA findings were likely to be based on false results, anyway. Plus, there’s one other teeny obstacle to setting up Jurassic Park: no one has actually ever found any dinosaur DNA. Scientists know that DNA degrades over time, with the oldest ever DNA that’s been found coming from an 800,000-year-old ancestor of humans. The dinosaur DNA you need would have had to survive around 65m years. READ MORE

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