Science usually make the impossible, possible, and I know cloning has crossed every person’s mind at one point or another.
Even to the extent of having a miniature T-Rex as a pet for others. So can movies of the likes of Jurassic Park really come true?
It breaks my heart to say, unfortunately, we will never see a fossil of a dinosaur come to life.
These are a few issues that make this realty out of reach by a fingertip length
1. DNA has a tendency to break its hydrogen bonds as it degrades
DNA has a half-life of approximately 521 years when left be. This means DNA will be 50% degraded come 521 years from now. The reason is when the cell dies, enzymes are released, especially nuclease whose job is to degrade DNA. This means DNA will last approximately 6.8 million years under the ideal conditions. Even with that time span, researchers state that after 1.5 million years the DNA would have degraded so much that the remaining would be unreadable.
2. We need a base structure
Even if we were able to find a perfect in-tact DNA of T-Rex, the issue would be what animal cells we would use to accompany the DNA. You can’t exactly put T-Rex into dog cells. They have to be at least similar and unfortunately, we don’t have animals similar to this dinosaur. An example of what MAY work, and may is a strong word to use, is putting mammoth DNA into elephant cells.
Many people may remember Dolly the sheep. She was the first mammal cloned using somatic cells and the transfer of DNA, she lived 6 years as a normal sheep with no problems what so ever!
Also, a question that is being raised between scientist is,
Is this ethical? Will everyday cloning be accepted?
3. We don’t have advanced preservation methods
Don’t get me wrong we have discovered wonderful methods which range from
- Low temperatures- this will inhibit the nucleases activity
- 2-Mercaptoethanol- This chemical is simpler than it sounds, it simply reduced the disulphide bonds in proteins, when a cell lyses (splits in two) it will release many ribonucleases (breaks DNA). Disulphide bonds are formed as a backbone, the more bonds the stronger the enzyme. 2-Mercaptoethanol breaks will break many of these bonds, slowing the degrading process.
- EGTA (egtazic acid)- Research has shown that this enzyme may inhibit DNase, which breaks down DNA, in plant nuclei.
These methods and enzymes may be a mouthful but the bottom line is that they prevent the DNA from degrading by certain enzymes
Believe it or not, this is a very conservative list regarding issues, for example, a whole other list will appear when rebirthing animals or egg-laying reptiles. What would the egg be made of? Will the DNA sequence allow the animal to break the shell? Will the egg function in certain conditions such as increased humidity and oxygen conditions?
To add to the list, when an animal that was extinct thousands of years ago is brought back from the dead, how different is the environment? The bacteria that was present may have assisted in everyday life, similar to our wonderful ecology of every human being living in a mutual relationship of survival for both parties.
What if the air is thinner or the effect of the pollution created by mankind has on the lungs.
These are all issues that make the process of “just get some DNA and stick it into a cell” so much harder than first appearances.
This is not to say it cannot be done or damage to our ecosystem will occur. In 2007 scientist successful cloned an Ibex that had gone extinct in 2000. The animal survived less than 10 minutes due to genetic problems with its lungs, but it showed that it can be done.
Believe it or not, the process is rather simple when the complicated science aspect is reduced. Take an intact DNA that has not degraded much. Insert the DNA into a somatic cell and put into a host/ surrogate. Then let nature take its course.
Now I hear the naysayers complaining about overpopulation and due to the current world’s stability, cloning more animals may push the environmental issues over the edge.
Harvard University’s lead researchers George Church explains the effects of resurrecting the woolly mammoths to the arctic environment;
research that shows that mammoths and other large herbivores trampling across the ancient Arctic ecosystems helped maintain the grasslands by knocking down trees and spreading grass seeds in the dung.
When the large herbivores disappeared, the ecosystem transitioned to today’s mossy tundra and taiga that is beginning to melt and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Although we may not get a minute T-Rex or Stegosaurus if cloning could bring alive extinct animals, what possibilities could exist for cross breeding? The evolution adaption that these animals may have had in their time could open the door of possibilities to curing diseases, assisting crops and farmers, engineering animals to help the environment rather than destroy it.
The possibilities could be limitless.
Genetic engineering could shape the meat industry by engineering alternatives to cows to reduce carbon dioxide output. Much larger animals could be created requiring fewer quantities of the likes of cows and sheep.
Certain metabolic processes could be discovered in these animals that may give rise to new inventions. What if one of these species had the ability to tap into muscle reserves to provide an alternative source of oxygen. What if this process could be reverse engineered and utilised as a new form of oxygen production for of world expeditions or lengthy undersea voyages
We could not only bring back the famous dodo or woolly mammoth but also the likes of
The Woolly Rhino, the Moa, the Quagga, the Tasmanian tiger, the Irish Elk The Stelle’s Sea Cow, and many many more exotic animals.