Science

Bingo: Paleontologists Say They May Have Found Traces of Dino DNA

Get ready for those dinosaur theme parks to become a reality.

Well, okay — maybe not just yet (but we can dream).

According to a new study, Dr. Alida Bailleul from the Chinese Academy of Sciences believes she and her team of paleontologists may have discovered something that looks like dinosaur DNA. They’re not quite ready to say it is dino DNA, but it sure seems to act like it.

“Our data support the hypothesis that calcified cartilage is preserved at the molecular level in this Mesozoic material, and suggest that remnants of once-living chondrocytes, including their DNA, may preserve for millions of years.”

The discovery was made on skull fragments from a 75-million-year-old fossilized duck-billed dinosaur nestling, upon which Bailleul found cartilage cells containing “microstructures morphologically consistent with nuclei and chromosomes.”

According to Bailleul, she couldn’t believe it when she saw it. “My heart almost stopped beating,” she said in a press release. She added that “these new exciting results add to growing evidence that cells and some of their biomolecules can persist in deep-time.”

If true, the discovery of preserved dinosaur DNA would rock the paleontology world, as up to this point it’s been accepted that DNA simply can’t survive for tens of millions of years. This has lead many to take a skeptical view of the claim, but most are curious to see where this is going. There’s also a chance the dinosaur skull was contaminated, but if they’re able to sequence the material, that question may eventually be answered.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, thus far the oldest DNA sequenced was from a 700,000-year-old horse that was “frozen in permafrost.” Last year, new techniques allowed for genetic information to be extracted from the tooth enamel of a 1.7-million-year-old rhinoceros.

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Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. For nearly 10 years, he's managed Stranger Dimensions, providing a unique perspective on all matters involving time travel, parallel universes, and whether or not robots might one day take over the world.

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