Give Now

A Moment of Science

Cloning T-Rex: The Difficulty With Cloning Dinosaurs

We can clone sheep and other animals, right? So why not dinosaurs? Find out on this Moment of Science.

T-Rex Skeleton

Photo: arex (flickr)

Why not do that with dinosaurs or other extinct animals like wooly mammoths? The problem is that we don't have well preserved DNA from dinosaurs and wooly mammoths.

As I’m sure you recall, Jurassic Park is about a scientist who clones dinosaurs from DNA preserved in amber.

Although the film was entertaining, and the special effects spectacular, it contained several scientific inaccuracies. Cloning dinosaurs might be an intriguing idea, but scientifically speaking it’s not possible.

We can clone sheep and other animals, right? So why not dinosaurs?

To put in different terms, cloning a dinosaur is theoretically possible, but it’s not like cloning a sheep.

It has to do with how cloning works. In nuclear transfer cloning, a nucleus from the animal to be cloned is inserted into an egg with its nucleus removed. The nucleus contains most of the genetic material of eggs and other cells. If things go well, the egg with its new nucleus forms an embryo that starts to divide and mature. After a few days it’s transferred to a surrogate mother.

Why not do that with dinosaurs or other extinct animals like wooly mammoths?

The problem is that we don’t have well preserved DNA from dinosaurs and wooly mammoths. Millenia of freezing and thawing, and other processes break up most of the DNA. Even if we did find usable dinosaur DNA, finding a surrogate mother similar in size and biology to a dinosaur would be difficult, to say the least. Crocodile or ostrich eggs might be as close as we could come.

  • dinosaurfan

    this dinosaur is big . i really really like him. just type on internet t-bataar . it is another t-rex

  • dinosaurfan

    this dinosaur is big . i really really like him. just type on internet t-bataar . it is another t-rex

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science