Did Jurassic Park Predict The Future?

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Did Jurassic Park Predict The Future?

Harper Kolehmainen, Staff Writer

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The Jurassic Park series has gained wild popularity for its famous depictions of scientists creating a dinosaur theme park which, predictably, ended in disaster. Though the idea seems far fetched, even for an action movie, new scientific advancements make it seem not only possible, but probable. In the series, a wealthy tycoon decides to begin his next business venture: a theme park using real dinosaurs brought back from extinction by means of DNA found in Jurassic-era mosquitos that have been preserved in amber. The basis for the science used in this series can actually be found in scientific research coinciding with the script-writing of the movie. Now, 26 years after the first movie’s release, the phenomenon of de-extinction (bringing a species back from extinction) portrayed in the series is within our grasp.

    The science portrayed within the film series is eerily close to the various ways de-extinction is currently being put into practice. De-extinction is similar to the methodologies behind genetic cloning. The first instance of genetic cloning occurred in 2003 when the DNA of the deceased final Bucardo (a specific species of wild goat) was used to make a clone. A normal goat egg was stripped of its own genetic material, leaving it as a sort of genetic template, and was then injected with cells containing the Bucardo goats DNA. These embryos were then implanted into the wombs of surrogate mother goats. While the majority of these pregnancies failed, one succeeded and resulted in a genetic clone of the final bucardo goat, successfully bringing a species back from extinction. Though this clone only lived for seven minutes as a result of deformed lungs, it showed us that cloning and de-extinction are real and almost inevitable possibilities.

    Essentially, modern science has given us the ability to bring any animal back from extinction with only a sample of its DNA. So the question becomes, how do we get dinosaur DNA? Well, here’s where fiction films don’t quite get it right. Though the DNA can be found in insects, it can’t be found in insects preserved in amber. Amber does not allow for the preservation of soft tissue, like blood, so any dinosaur DNA collected by mosquitos millions of years ago would be long corrupted by now. Additionally, the half life of DNA is only 521 years, making it almost impossible for any to remain for 65 million years. However, scientists have found a mosquito from 45 million years ago preserved in lake sediment carrying another animal’s blood in its abdomen. In this case, there was no DNA, but it does prove the possibility of finding preserved dinosaur DNA, though it is highly improbable.

    With how disastrous the ending of Jurassic park turned out to be, you would think it would serve as a warning to scientists not to play god. As the character Malcolm states in the first film, “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” Though modern science gives us the power to play god, that doesn’t mean we should use it. The guiding force of nature has always been evolution and natural selection, which requires extinction for progress. If a species is selected for extinction and we use science to bring it back from the dead, we are making ourselves responsible for evolution. Who knows what effects this could have in the coming decades. Though, according to Jurassic park, it will probably end in a massive T-Rex rampage.

    One area Jurassic park was scientifically accurate in was its portrayals of using distant relatives of the dinosaur as genetic templates for the dinosaur DNA. As was done with the cloned goat, using a related species’ embryo, cleaning it of its own genetic material, and then injecting cells possessing the DNA of the species intended for cloning is how de-extinction is induced. In fact, as the first instance of this methodology occurred in 2003, it’s almost as if the Jurassic park series predicted the future of science a full decade before it was implemented, even if they got a few details wrong. Not bad for an action movie from the 1990’s.