If we had a complete DNA strand, could we hatch a dinosaur with existing technology? As discussed on Quora: the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Adriana Heguy, molecular biologist, genomics researcher:
No, we could not. We have sequenced the genome of the wooly mammoth, and we still have not resurrected a mammoth, even though there are related extant species, the Asian elephant in this case, which could be used as surrogate mothers of an elephant embryo to which mammoth genes were introduced by CRISPR gene editing . This is being attempted at the moment but in my opinion, though feasible, it’s a long shot. And this is an ideal case because a pretty similar animal with a similar genome is still alive.
In the case of a dinosaur, the closest living relatives are birds, which are their descents, and after birds, crocodiles. But dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago. That is a long time for divergence. Even if we had some dinosaur DNA, which is highly unlikely to happen because DNA does not last for that long (the oldest DNA to be sequenced is <1 million years old), we would have to use birds or crocodile embryos to edit the dinosaur genes into, and the end product would still be more of a bird and a crocodile than a dinosaur. Of course, we can never say never: some soft tissue containing collagen and potentially blood cells has been recovered from a 75 million year old dinosaur . As more museum specimens are analyzed, maybe we can get some proteins sequenced, and try to get a chicken or crocodile embryo to express at least one or two dinosaur proteins. But at the moment, it’s just fun science fiction.