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Bringing dinosaurs back to life? It's for the birds, says biochemist

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Attack of the T-Rex: Martin Place is transported back to the Jurassic age, as animated dinosaurs roamed the streets.

Attack of the T-Rex: Martin Place is transported back to the Jurassic age, as animated dinosaurs roamed the streets.

They last roamed the Earth about 65 million years ago, but dinosaurs really could be brought back to life, a biochemist at Oxford University believes.

Alison Woollard said the DNA of modern birds might be used to ''design'' genomes of the creatures.

The idea echoes the plot of Jurassic Park, the 1990 novel in which dinosaurs' blood was extracted from blood-sucking insects preserved in amber and used to re-create them.

Will Rex Airlines go the way of the dinosaur of the same name?

Will Rex Airlines go the way of the dinosaur of the same name?

An attempt by Australian scientists to isolate dinosaur DNA in this way failed recently. But Dr Woollard said it could be achieved by ''de-evolving'' birds.

''We know birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs. Could we 'rewind' evolution by switching these genes back on?'' The difficulty was in finding surviving dinosaur DNA, then making a full genome from millions of short fragments in order, she said.

Debate is raging among scientists about the ethics of so-called ''de-extinction''.

But Dr Woollard also posed the questions: ''Would the clones become a pool for a deadly virus? And, if we remind ourselves of the terror portrayed in Jurassic Park … do we really want to live alongside dinosaurs?''

Telegraph, London

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