Jurassic Park had cutting edge visual effects, a great cast, the magic touch of Steven Spielberg, and a memorable soundtrack composed by none other than John Williams. Despite the film’s success and continuing legacy, there’s a fatal flaw behind the Jurassic Park franchise: the science.
Jurassic Park doesn’t really create dinosaurs so much as clone them.
We’re given the rundown as to how exactly this miracle of science came to be through a whimsical, animated feature in the first film. Mr. DNA himself explains that blood contains DNA, and in order to make dinosaurs, John Hammond’s expert squad of scientists had to find dinosaur blood. Fossilized mosquitoes in amber served as the source for the park’s collection of dino DNA.
Once the blood was collected from the mosquitoes, the DNA was sequenced — which is a monumental task. Geneticists sequenced the whole of the dinosaur’s genome and patched in missing parts with DNA from frogs. With the complete code for a dinosaur/frog hybrid, Jurassic Park was then able to implant the chromosomes into an egg. Tada! You now have the makings of a baby dinosaur.
Disregarding the mind-boggling amount of time it takes to sequence a genome, it seems like a fairly simple process, right? Not so fast. Author Michael Crichton left some canyon-sized gaps in his otherwise very scientific explanation as to how Hammond resurrected the long-dead dinosaurs.
Michael Crichton is famous for his fictional explorations of the furthest reaches of science; from resurrecting dinosaurs to artificial intelligence to time travel, his novels take a very serious, stringently researched approach to science fiction. Crichton leaves little up to interpretation and explains in excruciating detail the ins and outs of how the science in his books should, theoretically, work. And all this theory is based on real, peer-reviewed, scientific research.
When Crichton was writing Jurassic Park, he firmly believed that genetic experimentation and manipulation was the technology of the future. Although not nearly as present in the films, the books show how various corporations are willing to do whatever it takes to make the next leap in genetic engineering, ethics be damned.
This is a theme continued in other novels such as Next, which questions whether or not a living person’s cells can be licensed and then owned by a corporation. Crichton had his finger on the pulse of the latest in genetic engineering, and in some ways he was ahead of his time. Keep watching the video to see Jurassic Park: The science finally explained.
Dino DNA | 0:00
Reassembling the DNA | 1:09
De-extinction | 1:59
DNA decays | 2:52
About the eggs | 3:45
These dinosaurs aren’t even from the Jurassic period | 4:46
Life found a way | 5:38
Hybrids are hard | 6:24
Why frogs? | 7:20
What were raptors really like? | 8:05
T. Rexes can see just fine | 8:52
The real alpha | 9:46
Paleontology owns bones | 10:39
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