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Speak of the Week: Could humans and dinosaurs coexist at the same time?

In Jurassic World: Dominions, dinosaurs roam the Earth once again, and after the events of JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, the genetically recreated dinos are no longer contained to a remote island.

This made us wonder whether dinosaurs really could be resurrected, and if so, what would happen if we suddenly had to share the planet with these ancient animals. 

Is it possible to recreate dinosaurs from their DNA?

In reality, it is easier imagined than performed, say experts. William Ausich, Professor Emeritus of Paleontology at Ohio State University, explained in a column in The Conversation that the task becomes extremely difficult given the fact that all that is left of dinosaurs are their fossils. DNA, on the other hand, is much easily obtained from the “soft parts” of a being. This could be organs, blood vessels, nerves, muscle, and fat, he said.

In response to a question by a five-year-old, William Ausich was quoted as saying: “Immersed for tens of millions of years in ancient mud, minerals, and water, the fossils come from the dinosaur’s so-called “hard parts” – its bones, teeth, and skull.” The soft part, Ausich said, had “either decomposed or been eaten by another dinosaur.”

Explaining the complexities of DNA, he added, “DNA – which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid – is something in every cell of every organism that ever lived on Earth, including dinosaurs.” He equated it to molecules that carry the genetic code, which in turn is described as “a set of instructions that helps bodies and minds grow and thrive”

And these molecules decay, Ausich said. “Recent studies show DNA deteriorates and ultimately disintegrates after about 7 million years,” he explained, citing a paper published in the journal Nature.

Given that the last dinosaur died 65 million years ago, chances of finding DNA were extremely slim. Ausich said even if the scientists were able to come up with fragments of a dinosaur, they would not be able to make a complete dinosaur.

“Instead, they would have to combine the fragments with the DNA of a modern-day animal to create a living organism,” he added. According to the paleontologist, this organism would not be a complete or actual dinosaur but rather a hybrid of a dinosaur and a bird or a reptile.

Could Humans and Dinosaurs Coexist? 

If humans did succeed in bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, how would we coexist? If dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct, humans are unlikely to have been able to evolve. During the 150 million years that dinosaurs existed, mammals lived alongside them, but these animals were nocturnal and lived in burrows. This suggests that this was the only way for mammals to thrive alongside dinosaurs, emerging mainly at night to hunt. Because our lives are completely separate to that of dinosaurs, there’s no way of knowing what would happen if dinosaurs were to live on the same land as us. 

By observing human behavior with today’s large predators, it seems unlikely that the two species would live naturally together. Humans take up so much space on the planet that introducing predators like dinosaurs outside of captivity would likely result in a battle for land.

Jurassic World: Dominion premieres in theaters on June 10. Watch the trailer above.

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