75-Million-Year-Old ‘DNA’ Found Preserved In Baby Duck-Billed Dinosaur
Michael Crichton may not have been that far wide of the mark when he wrote Jurassic Park, as a sensational new paper in the journal National Science Review suggests that DNA may be able to persist for dozens of millions of years. This finding is sure to spark debate within the scientific community as it contradicts all previous evidence regarding the longevity of genetic material. If true, though, it could open up new possibilities for studying the biology of prehistoric organisms – but it certainly won’t lead to any dinosaurs being resurrected.
Previous research has indicated that DNA can only remain stable for around a million years, leading to the assumption that genetic material has a sell-by date beyond which it degrades. Yet this latest study appears to blow that theory to smithereens by annoucing the discovery of DNA in a 75-million-year-old baby duck-billed dinosaur called a hypacrosaurus.
Housed at the Museum of the Rockies, the specimen caught the attention of researchers after an examination revealed the presence of some remarkably preserved cells within a section of fossilized cartilage tissue.
After isolating the cells, the study authors applied two DNA stains, which bind to fragments of DNA in order to show up any areas where genetic material is present. Both of the stains interacted with the hypacrosaur tissue in a pattern that is consistent with modern cells, indicating that some of the dinosaur’s DNA was indeed preserved within the sample.