Recent paleontology studies have uncovered startling findings: Jurassic Park cannot exist, dinosaurs are probably fuzzy, and there’s a new dinosaur to add to the textbooks. Remember the discovery two years ago that the Triceratops, the dinosaur you may know as the cute bully from The Land Before Time (Cera), was really only a younger version of a different dinosaur? These findings change our understanding of the world and help us remember that science is flawed and, more importantly, that it can ruin our beloved movies.
The New York Times ran an article this month detailing the discovery of a new dinosaur: the Pegomastax, which means “thick jaw from Africa.” The animal has a short parrotlike beak, one-inch jaws, sharp teeth and a skull no less than three inches long. The entire body is no more than two feet in length and probably weighed less than a small house cat. It’s a member of the heterodontosaur species, which is known for its miniature, fanged plant-eaters.
All dinosaur species may have more in common with the bird-like Pegomastax than we once thought. Discovery after discovery concludes that many dinosaurs had feathers. The Dilong, an early member of the group that includes the T. Rex, and the Yutyrannus, a dinosaur evolutionarily closer to the T. Rex, both were found to have feathers.
These furry findings support the possibility of a feathered T. Rex and the theory that birds are descendants of the dinosaur–a theory that has led many scientists to claim that they can clone a dinosaur by using the DNA of a bird. This process, though, is highly controversial and would most likely fail to wield a jurassic effect.
Alas, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park dreams, and probably yours, have been dashed. A Nature article published this month explains that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. This means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone, confirming that DNA from dinosaurs and ancient insects cannot be trapped in amber.
If this news saddens you, here’s a modern-day dinosaur (not really, but he looks like one) that will be sure to brighten your day.