Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Potential Recovery of Dinosaur DNA!

 This article details an account which claims that $125 million-year-old DNA has been recovered from a dinosaur called Caudipteryx. Scientists claim that the fragments of chromatin and nuclei within the fossil could contain preserved DNA, which could then be extracted and studied. However, mass skepticism surrounds this idea. Currently, the oldest sequenced DNA belongs to a million year old woolly mammoth, and, given how long ago dinosaurs went extinct, the idea of sequencing multi-millions of years old DNA is nearly unheard of… This is due to DNA's fragility. The dinosaur DNA was allegedly extracted from fossilized femur cartilage, found in China. This fossil was exceptionally preserved, as the site it was found at is known for fossilization via fine volcanic ash- prime preservation conditions. However, the main concern surrounding this is the idea that the genetic material being found could actually be from microbes on the fossils, not the dinosaurs themselves. This is a problem that researchers commonly run into, not only with dinosaurs, but other ancient organisms as well.

Personally, I think that the concept of being able to study ancient DNA, and then further learn from it in the present day, is fantastical. However the obvious problems of being unable to differentiate between modern organisms and fossil DNA is a major setback. Additionally, due to DNA's tendency to break down over time, unfortunately, I am also a skeptic in regards to whether or not DNA was actually recovered from this dinosaur. However, if somehow we were able to develop a way to differentiate modern versus ancient DNA, I think it would be amazing to compare ancient DNA to modern DNA, and see just how similar dinosaur DNA is to that of modern organisms. 

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