Dinosaurs roamed the Earth for 175 million years before they went extinct over 65 million years ago. Since the first fossil was uncovered in 1819, many of us have been fascinated by these incredible creatures, although our knowledge of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones, preserved skin, footprints and eggs. Given how long ago the dinosaurs died out, it was thought it would be impossible to ever find any of their DNA.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences believe they have made a groundbreaking discovery that will turn this knowledge on its head. While closely examining the skulls of two duck billed Hypacrosauris dinosaurs, they noticed something unexpected. They observed tiny circular shapes, which they identified as fossilized cartilage cells. Within several of these cells they noticed a dark spot which resembled a cell nucleus, and other cells contained coils that looked like chromosomes. Could this be dinosaur DNA?
The researchers isolated some of these cells and then applied chemicals that bind with fragments of DNA in the hope it would indicate that genetic material was present. These results indicated that some dinosaur DNA has been preserved within the fossilized cartilage cells. While this DNA is unlikely to be complete, it could still provide some genomic information about these ancient creatures that lived millions of years ago.
Source: Science Alert
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