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In Blade Runner 2049,

Wallace has Luv recover the skeleton of Rachael.

They then proceed to hunt down Deckard and the child, because Niander has been unable to crack reproduction in the replicants.

However as we know, Rachael was the first replicant mother, and he has a relatively intact skeleton:.

Why then, did they not simply reverse engineer the DNA, or even clone the skeleton, to discover the secret?

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    Worth noting is that he did not get the eye color incorrect, the general consensus seems to be that Deckard was bluffing because he knows it's not "his" Rachael.
    – Theik
    Oct 24, 2017 at 9:07
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    DNA, gene expression, and development are variable in any case - perhaps the issue isn't DNA dependent, but instead relies on control of an external factor.
    – Cugel
    Oct 24, 2017 at 18:08
  • @Theik, that makes sense, I'll update the question to reflect. Oct 25, 2017 at 1:13

2 Answers 2

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Skeletal DNA is part of the puzzle but would not be enough by itself. Replicants are assembled, not grown whole. Points backing the "Frankenstein's monster" style of construction include Chew saying "I just do eyes!" when confronted by Batty in Blade Runner, and it being stated that J.F. Sebastian's specialty was replicant hands.

The DNA of a replicant would be similar to a biological chimera. Because any one part could have different code, having only parts of a skeleton isn't sufficient to reverse-engineer the full spectrum of capabilities of the original machine. The DNA in the cervical tissue or other reproductive organs would be closest to the offspring. Wallace didn't have this.

Because the naturally born replicant will itself be

a hybrid of Deckard and Rachael,

they might run into the same problem of course. The child's DNA won't completely match

Rachael's, but it's assumed that obtaining Deckard and the child

will help them complete the puzzle.

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  • You could add the relevant quote from Wallace where he says that he "has the lock and now he needs the key".
    – Möoz
    Nov 2, 2017 at 0:02
  • @Möoz Great idea that fits perfectly. Nov 2, 2017 at 2:34
  • How do we know that, in 2049, replicants are assembled? We do get an indication that eyes are grown separately, even in 2049 because of the serial number thing but it also appears that the replicants might be grown in an artificial womb.
    – releseabe
    Mar 17 at 10:01
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DNA deteriorates over time. The material in question had been buried in the ground for almost 30 years, which is far from an ideal situation. It is also possible that it had been treated with chemicals or radiation to deliberately degrade the DNA, which might explain why

Morton carefully removed all flesh from the bones in the first place.

Admittedly, it's a little far fetched that a technology able to grow replicants in artificial wombs couldn't reconstruct the DNA, at least well enough to determine eye colour.

However, this is a film in which K does pairwise sequence alignment by looking at the DNA sequences on a screen, even though computers are so sophisticated his house has a Genuine People Personality. Technological development in the Blade Runner universe is patchy and inconsistent across the board, some of which is explained away by

the mass erasure of data storage

several years previously.

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    As for the DNA degradation, we got a pretty clear genomes of 2 Neanderthal and one Denisova individuals who lived more than 40 000 years ago. Even with our current technology, we would be able to do it.
    – Edelk
    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:50
  • True, but prehistoric genomes are not complete or easy to assemble. And even with the best possible technology, if the DNA simply isn't there they won't be able to read it. Oct 24, 2017 at 9:14
  • Yes, but between 40 000 years of decomposition and ~30 years, it's not the same. The DNA inside most bones would have suffer minor contamination and even fewer degradation
    – Edelk
    Oct 24, 2017 at 9:18
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    Unless of course the DNA was deliberately destroyed, and it's implied that it was. Oct 24, 2017 at 9:32
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    Also the way DNA is expressed can be affected by conditions inside the womb. For example, if you make a clone of a calico cat, the clone's coat pattern could look completely different than the original's, as which color gene is expressed is affected by conditions in the womb. Similarly, cloning Rachel won't produce a perfect copy of her.
    – Kai
    Oct 24, 2017 at 17:58

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