In the Jurassic Park film series, scientist extracted DNA from a drop of dinosaur blood found in amber. Throw in a scattering of biochem technobabble and suddenly you have living dinosaurs. Pure science fiction.

One step closer.

For years, scientists have argued that soft tissue cannot survive for that many years however we are finding this is not the whole story.  This is because of the way fossils are formed. Basically, when an animal dies in a watery environment the soft tissue rots away leaving the bones which are then covered with sediment that eventually turns into rock.

In 2009 when paleontologist Mary Schweitzer peered into her microscope at a fossilized dinosaur bone she saw something unexpected.  Instead of fossilized bone cells, she saw cells that resembled red blood cells. Turns out the 68-million-year-old cells were the connective tissue collagen.

Fast forward to 2017 and the recent news of monkey blood found in a 30 Million-year-old amber preserved tick.

Can we get DNA out of these specimens? George Poinar, Jr., professor emeritus at Oregon State University who’s been finding these amber preserved bugs, and apparently is the guy who gave the idea for Jurassic Park, says probably not.

Professor Poinar says that trying to extract the DNA would destroy the specimen and he does not want to do that.

So where are we then?

Well, while many scientists accept that soft tissue cannot survive that long, this is proving to be false by the growing body of evidence to the contrary.

So no Jurassic Park yet but we are getting closer to finding viable organic samples. Sooner or later we may come across some usable DNA now that the idea of tissue survivability is no longer as crazy as it once sounded.

As always, more reading:

Red blood cells found in dinosaur bone

Tick preserved in amber


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