Michael Crichton Was Apparently A Liar

Something I will never eat, illustrated by Sammy Hall

Science is awesome, most of the time. But for every Deep Field picture of the edge of time, or discovery of a fundamental particle, or creation of terrifying robots, sometimes it can be a real buzz kill. Like today, with the announcement by a joint team from the University of Copenhagen and Murdoch University in Perth, that DNA has a half life. And that half life is very short. Well, short in a geologic sense. 521 years. Not even a millennium.

The team, led by Michael Bunce and Morten Allentoft examined 158 bones of an extinct giant bird called the moa, native to New Zealand. These bones were all discovered within 5 kilometres of each other, and were all well preserved, allowing the scientists to examine exactly how much the DNA within these bones had degraded. Determining the age of the bones, and the condition of the DNA gave the researchers the number 521 as the half life (the amount of time it takes for half of the bounds to degrade).

Going further, the team also set a maximum life span of viable DNA at between 1.6 and 6.7 million years. After this, the DNA, even preserved in perfect conditions, would be unusable. Which made the headlines, because it means that Dino DNA will be pretty much nonviable.

What this means is, with the maximum set at 6.7 million, we can at least look forward to possibly sequencing the DNA of the wholly mammoth, the Tasmanian tiger, the dodo bird, possibly even Neanderthals or other human relatives. Sequenced DNA means we might have a chance at cloning these animals in the future. What it also means is, any idea of creating a cloned dinosaur, or building a real life Jurassic Park, are gone. Which, lets be honest, despite all our hopes, was never really an option.

But I'm warning you right now science, you stay the hell away from warp drive. I need to cling to something.

Via Nature.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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