Biology Question #323

Jonathan Weiler, a 14 year old male from the Internet asks on January 21, 1998,

Would it be possible to clone dinosaurs?

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The answer

Dinosaur Experts answered on January 21, 1998

To be able to clone any biological organism (like a sheep or a person), the scientists need to have a complete copy of the organism's genetic code (DNA), plus a viable, unfertilized egg to implant it into. DNA is a very long, complex molecule which does not appear to survive very long after death, except in some very special circumstances, and even then only a very small portion of the whole molecule is left. Since dinosaurs (other than birds) have been extinct for over 64 million years, the chances of finding a complete, intact DNA molecule is infinitely small, although some scientists are still looking. The scientists currently looking for dino DNA do not really think that they will ever be able to clone a dinosaur, but they do hope that they can find enough to compare to the DNA of living reptiles and birds to see if they can determine what group the extinct dinos are most closely related to.

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