The dream of having a real life Jurassic Park is perhaps never going turn into reality. The problem lies in the age old DNA extraction and reproduction/cloning process. The molecular level digits are pretty quick on decaying to nothingness when it comes to developing a living, walking ‘n breathing version of Jurassic park in today’s day and age.

Flickr image of multiple fossilized extinct creatures

People have always been fascinated by dinosaurs; the million years old creatures that once walked the earth’s surface. Scientists have been trying long and hard to artificially reproduce dinosaurs through their DNA signatures preserved in fossil form.

The only problem is that according to latest discoveries, the average Half-Life span of DNA structure dates to 521 years only. It is indeed a long time but when you compare five hundred years with the actual time period when dinosaurs were once alive, it doesn’t even cut down to half of it.

To be able to see any successful DNA rebirth scenarios, an estimated 8,000 years have to be there for any samples to survive. Unfortunately we will have to make do with plain sightseeing and imaginary pictures of dinosaurs in books, museums and giant emporiums.

A team of palaeogeneticists dedicated its precious time to analyzing over 150 different samples of leg bones from three different species of moa birds. The age span of these birds ranged between a minimal of 600 years to a maximum of 8,000 years. The tests were based on running comparisons on bone structure and DNA degradation levels within them.

T-Rex soft tissue samples | MSN 

T-Rex dinosaur soft tissue extracts

Surprisingly, it was found out that the DNA half-life only works out around 521 years. In most cases, those DNA samples decayed due to variable temperature exposure, climatic constraints, environmental hazards and etc. For any DNA life form to prevail, a minimum of 13.1 Degree Celsius temperature is needed – and that too within a swampy location.

If all idea circumstances are taken into account, the maximum DNA decay period amounts to 1.5 million years. This means that at this point, we have no other means of seeing a baby T-Rex. Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs got extinct over 60 million years ago.

After a millennium in any DNA sample’s time period, scientists naturally take chemistry, humidity, soil conditions, natural environmental preservatives and many other things into account. Such factors can influence DNA sample’s prevalence – Sadly, the bonds simply no longer exist anymore.

The proceedings of this phenomenal research can be found at the ‘Royal Society B Science Journal’ webpage. Credit goes to Dr. Morten Allentoft (University of Copenhagen) and Dr. Michael Bunce (Murdoch University – Australia).

Research Abstract on Dinosaur DNA | Royal Society B Science Journal

Claims of extreme survival of DNA have emphasized the need for reliable models of DNA degradation through time. By analysing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 158 radiocarbon-dated bones of the extinct New Zealand moa, we confirm empirically a long-hypothesized exponential decay relationship. The average DNA half-life within this geographically constrained fossil assemblage was estimated to be 521 years for a 242 bp mtDNA sequence, corresponding to a per nucleotide fragmentation rate (k) of 5.50 × 10–6 per year.

With an effective burial temperature of 13.1°C, the rate is almost 400 times slower than predicted from published kinetic data of in vitro DNA depurination at pH 5. Although best described by an exponential model (R2 = 0.39), considerable sample-to-sample variance in DNA preservation could not be accounted for by geologic age.

This variation likely derives from differences in taphonomy and bone diagenesis, which have confounded previous, less spatially constrained attempts to study DNA decay kinetics. Lastly, by calculating DNA fragmentation rates on Illumina HiSeq data, we show that nuclear DNA has degraded at least twice as fast as mtDNA. These results provide a baseline for predicting long-term DNA survival in bone.