Jurassic Park will never become a reality, say scientists after re-analysing a protein from a Tyrannosaurus rex bone discovered more than a decade ago. Jurassic World is a concept of science-fiction where a theme park is populated with cloned dinosaurs.
“It is probably the most common question palaeontologists are asked by the public – Could Jurassic Park become a reality?” researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK said. The claims of protein sequences (peptides) surviving from a 68 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil discovered ten years ago sparked the imagination of many scientists worldwide that, potentially, there may be hope one day. Prehistoric proteins might have supplied the first possible glimpse of the steps towards rebuilding dinosaurs.
This discovery, however, was not met with universal acceptance and caused much debate among the scientific community.”The discovery of proteins in dinosaur bones sent a shock-wave around the world, both among scientists and the public. It appeared that fiction was now being converted to fact through the application of new techniques,” said Mike Buckley, from The University of Manchester.
A team based at Manchester and National Museums Scotland set out to explore the possibility of whether the claimed dinosaur peptides could have come from modern animals, given that ostriches and alligators were known to be used by the labs in the original studies.The team analysed samples of bone from three different ostriches, finding strong matches to all of the originally reported fossil peptides from both T rex and Brachylophosaurus (duck-billed dinosaur).
“Our work set out to identify the collagen fingerprints for both Ostrich and Alligator and was not intending to debunk the previous studies. However, we soon realised that our results were pulling the rug from beneath the paradigm that collagen might survive the ravages of deep time,” Buckley said.Collagen is the key protein within bone that provides the flexibility in the skeleton and is intimately locked within the minerals that comprise bone.
This ubiquitous material dominates both the archaeological and palaeontological record and can provide important information on both living and extinct organisms. However, the survival of collagen sequences beyond 3.5 million years old has not been achieved and validated by any other team, researchers said.
“The fossil record is offering new information on a daily basis through the application of new technology, but we must never forget that when results show us something that we really want to see, that we make sure of our interpretation,” said Professor Phil Manning from The University of Manchester. “The alleged discovery of protein sequences in dinosaur bones has led many unsuccessful attempts to repeat these remarkable claims. It seems we were trying to reproduce something that was beyond the current detection limits of our science,” Manning said.