Although dreams of an IRL Jurassic Park are still just that, nearly every dinosaur finding still tantalizes with possibility. In a new fantasy fueling discovery, scientists in China say they’ve found evidence of “remnants” of original dinosaur DNA. Which may or not actually be there depending on how future experiments shake out.
To look for evidence of dino DNA, the scientists took a piece of fossilized cartilage from the specimen’s right femur and decalcified it. They then used different chemical and microscopy methods to analyze it; in part by staining it with hematoxylin and eosin, chemicals that react with the nucleus and cytoplasm of extant cells. (The stains are immediately below. The
When the scientists stained both the
“[W]e are obviously interested in fossilized cell nuclei because this is where most of the DNA should be if DNA was preserved,” Alida Bailleul, corresponding author of the study, said in a press release. The scientists have “very exciting data,” but are “are just starting to understand cellular biochemistry in very old fossils,” she added.
As of now, the most ancient DNA that scientists have been able to sequence was that of a million-year-old woolly mammoth. And the youngest dinosaurs are at least 65 million years old. But if future experiments do confirm this evidence as real, then that really changes things. At least in our fantasies, where reanimated dinosaurs and Ian Malcolms abound.