T-Rex running wild in Heaton Park? Not a chance: Jurassic Park theory rubbished by Manchester scientists

By Laurie Hillier

Dreams of standing in awe watching T-Rex roam free in Heaton Park have been dashed by Manchester scientists who have declared the theory behind Jurassic Park impossible.

The idea of extracting dinosaur DNA from amber as they did in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster is unfeasible, according to a specialist team at The University of Manchester.

The chances of DNA survival in ancient amber is next to none, the study claimed after their inability to detect DNA in relatively young fossilized insects, despite using sensitive next generation methods

Leader of the team Dr David Penney said: “Unfortunately, the Jurassic Park scenario must remain in the realms of fiction.”

Jurassic Park brought DNA into the mainstream as it showed a group of scientists cloning dinosaurs after extracting their DNA from mosquitos fossilised in amber.

Various scientists at the time supported the movie’s purported theory and it was only when a study at the National History Museum in London was unable to replicate the process that questions were asked.

Previous techniques had prioritised stronger traces, leading scientists to mistakenly report contamination as evidence of ancient DNA. The new sequencing approach allowed the team to extract all DNA traces regardless of strength.

Dr Penney said: “One might imagine that the complete and rapid engulfment in resin, resulting in almost instantaneous demise, might promote the preservation of DNA in a resin entombed insect, but this appears not to be the case.”

They looked at sub-fossilized insects in copal (60 years to 10,600 years old) rather than the fossilized insects in amber as seen in Jurassic Park.

Insects fossilized in amber resin can be up to 130million years old and it is the inability to find DNA evidence in the younger copal fossils that fuels the scientist’s conclusions.

The new research took place at the dedicated DNA facility at The University of Manchester. The labs have a controlled air supply and people are required to wear full forensic suits to avoid contamination.

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.

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