DNA Has a Halflife, so no Dinosaur ParksWell, this is sad news. Science has shown that DNA has a half-life, that after a period of time it loses its ability to make things work.
The heartbreaking news comes courtesy of New Zealand scientists, who discovered that DNA only remains viable for 521 years. Which means that we won't be getting any T-rex's, and probably no mammoths or saber-tooth tigers, either.
This isn't a hard line. Proper preservation ensures that the bonds last longer, so amber would help, as would a better technique at reading DNA. But the problem remains: every single nucleotide bond in DNA will break down after 6.8 million years at the most. That is a hard line.
Seeing as how the last recognizable dinosaurs died out ten times further in the past, well, you can see where this is going.
This study is the result of years of work, with scientists desperate to discover the rate at which bonds break down due to enzymes and even groundwater. And with so many variables at play in the natural environment, discovering hard and fast rules about DNA degradation is hard
But thanks to a chance discovery of 158 several specimens of the same species who died in the same area over the course of 6-8,000 years, scientists were finally able to work something out. After 521 years, half the bonds in DNA would be broken. After another 521, another half would be gone, and so on.
The ideal storage environment for DNA is in a -5C freezer, but even such perfect conditions wouldn't hold the DNA forever. DNA just wasn't meant to last millions of years.
It's not all bad news, however. Simon Ho, a computational evolutionary biologist from the University of Sydney, said “We might be able to break the record for the oldest authentic DNA sequence, which currently stands at about half a million years.” So at least we could still get a new Guinness record.