Link: 521 Years


That’s the half-life of DNA, according to new research from scientists in Denmark and Australia. That means that dinosaur DNA is pretty much out of the question, but that the Earth’s primary genetic material lasts longer than once thought.

By studying DNA left over in leg bones of extinct moa birds of different ages, they were able to determine how fast it naturally degrades. Water, essential for life, can be pretty reactive over the span of hundreds and thousands of years, slowly breaking the bonds that hold DNA molecules together.

If half the DNA is gone in 521 years, then even at optimal temperatures any sample would be almost totally degraded after 6.8 million years.

I guess there’s a few questions that remain, like if different environments could lead to different numbers, or what different soils could do to move that number up or down … but I’d sell your stock in any Jurassic Park-type ventures.

More at Nature.

Well that’s a bummer. Guess we’ll just have to build our own dinosaurs from scratch!

(Don’t hold your breath; we can barely make single living cells.)