Of all the questionable scientific practices out there, some are more controversial than others, and cloning dinosaurs is amongst them.
Most of these practices are controversial because there is a good argument to be made on each side. While these technologies could provide massive benefits, they also constitute a big threat.
Think about technology like vaccines – a great way to eradicate disease, but when made compulsory, they constitute the type of control that could be used to harm individuals and therefore should be trusted to no one.
3D printing falls into the same category. While this could be used to create goods that people need to live a better life, it could also make it easier for terrorist groups to create weapons. The list goes on – and cloning is perhaps the touchiest subject of all.
Cloning is perhaps the most polarizing subject of all. The idea of creating a human being or any other living creature through any other method than the way nature intended just seems too scary for some to consider. But now scientists are saying we could even clone creatures that have been extinct for millions of years.
Why Would Such an Option Be Considered
For some people, the concept of cloning even a simple sheep constitutes playing god or going too far into a realm humans should stay far away from.
But cloning dinosaurs? In one regard, that’s a terrible and dangerous idea – we even have an entire movie series that shows us exactly why!
However, scientists may have unique intentions behind their aspirations to return these ancient beasts to the earth. After dominating our planet for millions of years and seeing their era ended by a colossal asteroid impact. And while we can derive some information about their genetics and behavioral patterns from fossils, the picture isn’t completely clear.
For scientists to truly understand more about these creatures, the era they lived in, and what could’ve happened had that asteroid never made an impact on Earth, they need real live dinosaurs to study. Even saying that sentence out loud would’ve made one a laughing stock just a few years ago. After all, how could it be possible for a person to study a real live dinosaur?
Thanks to traces of DNA from dinosaurs left behind in mosquitoes and preserved in amber for millions of years, scientists have a shot at making this once far-fetched idea a reality.
Making Jurassic Park a Reality
How Would it Work?
When we’re talking about cloning dinosaurs, it is important to understand where the last traces of their genetic material area are.
Amber is a tree resin and has become fossilized throughout the ages thanks to a combination of temperatures and high pressure. These extreme environmental conditions have housed the resin in layers of thick sediment. The material has hardened into a type of gemstone and housed various materials inside.
These materials include the bodies of bloodsucking insects, which may have once feasted upon the massive dinosaurs that roamed the planet millions of years in the past. While there is some type of genetic material in these, it is not the soft tissue necessary for finding dinosaur DNA. Instead, the answer may be like in a mosquito recovered from the Eocene.
That era took place about 45 million years ago, and, despite being about 20 million years after dinosaurs roamed the earth, it left behind mosquitos in lake sediments. Unlike the tree resin, these sediments could preserve the soft tissue and give scientists access to porphyrins from hemoglobin directly from dinosaurs.
While small traces of DNA have been found in these locations and in permafrost, it is still very difficult to clone dinosaurs. This is because DNA will break down rapidly, meaning the window for using the DNA to create new lifeforms is very small.
But there’s another issue that is stopping scientists from getting the results they want – without knowledge of a dinosaur’s entire genome, using the DNA effectively is very tough.
Understanding the Importance of the Genome in Cloning
When we’re talking about cloning, DNA is of integral importance – it is the genetic signature of living beings, and helps provide the foundation for living beings.
But a genome is of high importance when we’re talking about DNA. A genome is the complete set of DNA, offering a full map of the living being’s inner workings, including biological tendencies, evolutionary developments, and more.
Since dinosaurs have been extinct for about 66 million years, there’s good reason to believe that finding their DNA is like finding a lost artifact. But mapping out an entire genome from a dinosaur is even tougher. While some theorize we could mix dinosaur DNA with that of its modern relatives, without a genome, we don’t have a map to go off of – yet.
Scientists have continued searching for the DNA and genome necessary to cloning dinosaurs. The search continues just in case something is found that could be used – primarily because it opens us up to so many opportunities to recreate the beasts that roamed the earth before humans were ever around.
Cloning a dinosaur may be possible once this information is uncovered – but what about when it comes to reverse engineering a dinosaur?
Understanding the Difference in Cloning and Reverse Engineering
When we are talking about the evolution of dinosaurs, we need not look further than our feathered friends. Birds may not strike the same fear in most that a tyrannosaurus would, but they’re still genetic relatives.
So we have chicken genomes and plenty of DNA to go off of – would it be possible for scientists to manipulate that genetic data and make it closer to a dinosaur than a bird? What if scientists added a long tail, rows of sharp teeth, and more size – would it be a dinosaur?
In terms of looks and functionality, perhaps – it would be as close to a dinosaur as we’ll ever see in the modern age. And even while they have DNA and traits in common, there’s no reason to think it would be the same as cloning a dinosaur.
In that case, it would merely be a creature that was reverse engineered and manipulated to give the appearance of a dinosaur. Because it lacks the true genome of these beasts, it is not the same as being cloned.
Cloning is a tricky concept, especially when we’re dealing with animals that are no longer on the earth anymore. The idea of cloning dinosaurs is possible, but it will require scientists to find the right genetic material.
This is a hard task, as the material is not only in scarce amounts but it is prone to breaking down quickly over time. But the search is on and the goal is in sight.
The Most Difficult Task of All
When it comes to cloning any living being, the process is difficult. Not only does it require an understanding of genomes, but it requires an understanding of DNA and the molecules that make it up – otherwise known as subunits.
These subunits exist in pairs, and billions of pairs are in each cell of a living creature. If some are missing, it is immensely difficult to figure out which ones and complete the puzzle. Imagine having a phone book with all the listed numbers for an entire city – and now imagine someone went into the book and removed several of the listings from each page.
You may be able to tell which ones are missing but, without an understanding of all the listings in the city, you would have no idea which ones were missing. This is why it is so tough to map out a genome and understand the true genetic makeup of a living creature without a full map to go off of.
Dinosaurs are mythical beasts in a sense – while they did roam the earth and their fossils give us a skeletal glimpse of what they were, scientists want more. They want to recreate these beings, but there is a lot of work to be done.
Pros and Cons of Cloning Dinosaurs
They could have a positive impact on the environment.
Russian scientist, Sergey Zimov, is all for bringing back the extinct wooly mammoth as this would help to prevent the melting of the Siberian permafrost and would assist with slowing down the process of climate change. Similarly, bringing back dinosaurs could have a positive effect on the environment.
It would help us to understand them better.
We would be more likely to find the answers to questions such as how the animal came to be extinct in the first place. We would also be able to find out what makes them different from their closest surviving relatives. Examining a living being will provide us with so much more information about the animal than just studying the remains.
They would help us to protect species which are close to becoming extinct.
To be specific, the techniques that would be used to bring back an extinct animal could be applied to living animals that are close to extinction. Also, any animals which have a small population could have their genetic variability restored. It would also be helpful with a species that has a predisposition to getting killed off, as this can be addressed by making some adjustments through cloning.
It would bring us a lot of joy.
There are many factors that play into why an animal goes into extinction, however, there isn’t really much we could have done to control the extinction of dinosaurs. That being said, there would be a lot of joy in being able to see dinosaurs in the flesh. Many people are big fans of dinosaurs and a lot of people spend time researching and analyzing dinosaur information. To be able to see a live dinosaur would bring so many people joy.
It is playing God.
This is an argument that could be seen in two ways. Many people believe that the extinction of dinosaurs was an act of God and was supposed to happen in that way. Those that believe this would not agree with bringing back dinosaurs as they believe that it is against God’s intentions. Other people argue that it is not playing God, as we as humans are learning and using our powers to bring back something that no longer exists. The real question as to whether extinct species should be brought back to life is an argument that will likely never be resolved.
We will be bringing a species back into an environment that is completely different from the one they existed in.
One of the biggest questions asked around this debate is “where would we put them?”. If we brought dinosaurs back, we would need to keep them somewhere, we would need to make sure that they have food and a suitable environment to roam and live freely. However, our current climate is a lot different from the climate that dinosaurs used to live in. So with that in mind, the real question is, “would dinosaurs be able to survive in our modern world?”.
It puts the conservation of currently endangered species way back.
The technology that we have in this day and age allows us to do many things without thinking of the effects. We are continually ruining our forests and continue to fill our oceans with waste. These places are homes to so many animals, some of which are endangered. While bringing back extinct animals such as dinosaurs seems like an interesting endeavor, should we be putting our efforts into saving the creatures which we may lose soon? The resources and costs that would be used to bring back dinosaurs could be used to save endangered species in our current world.
What Could Cloning Dinosaurs Lead To?
If we do reach a day when scientists are able to clone dinosaurs the way they can clone other animals, there are many breakthroughs that could occur.
We could begin to understand more about these creatures, but, even more so, we could understand the way they have lived and more about the period in which they roamed.
We may also find out more about genomes and DNA mapping, letting us see how genomes are built up and how subunit data can be derived from remnants of genetic material. It is all conjectural for now, but scientists say it is a possibility – now we just have to wait for it to happen.
Cloning Dinosaurs – Final Thoughts
Although it has been found that it is now possible to clone dinosaurs, there is a lot of debate about whether this is a good idea or not. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you think bringing dinosaurs back would be a good idea? Leave a comment in the box below and let us know what you think…