10

From the mosquitoes, they extracted the preserved remains of blood.
From the blood, they extracted the dinosaur DNA, any gaps in the DNA sequence were filled in with frog DNA.
But surely the mosquito only had the blood of one dinosaur?

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    Presumably there were many mosquitoes with the DNA of 1 dinosaur species each - the presentation was an example. – SteB Jul 5 '13 at 11:53
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    There was clearly more than 1 mosquito found in amber, since John Hammond even had an undisturbed specimen in the head of his cane. If they were that rare, I doubt he would have wasted one making a cane. – gnovice Jul 5 '13 at 13:31
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    Why the assumption that a mosquito only had the blood of one dinosaur ? Mosquitoes today feast on multiple animals (including humans). The probability is high that mosquitoes of the dino era also bit multiple animals. I think extracting the DNA from them (how do you separate out a particular species DNA) is one of those 'suspension of belief' acts that's often needed in a good sci fi novel. – Stan Jul 5 '13 at 16:07
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    A bigger question is why they completed it with frog DNA. Bird DNA is much, much closer. – vsz Jul 5 '13 at 17:44
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    @Mr Lister Spores/seeds embedded whole in amber. – Stan Jul 5 '13 at 22:19
19

Although it's possible that a mosquito had fed on more than 1 species of dinosaur, extracting DNA under those circumstances would be much more difficult (or even impossible).

Much more likely is that there were many mosquitoes, each having fed on a particular dinosaur and thus containing the DNA of 1 dinosaur species.

The presentation was clearly aimed at visitors with limited technical know-how (it was part of a ride) and so simplified things as an example.

  • Can you elaborate (a reference citation would be gr8) on why you think it's 'Much more likely' that mosquitoes of that era would have fed on only one dinosaur species ? – Stan Jul 5 '13 at 22:31
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    @Stan mosquitoes don't keep the blood indefinitely, they will metabolize it and will need to eat again. I would imagine they drink their fill from one victim and only move on to another when hungry. If so, it is reasonable to assume that at any one time (including the time of its death), a mosquito will only carry the blood of a single individual and whether they feed on multiple species is irrelevant. This is all complete speculation but it seems reasonable. – terdon Jul 6 '13 at 0:49
  • Good Lord - can you imagine the monstrosity that would arise if they had cloned the combined DNA of multiple dinosaurs? – Omegacron Jun 22 '15 at 17:21
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    @Omegacron: Why in the "WORLD" would you suggest that? – supercat Oct 23 '15 at 22:53
2

We know that there was most likely more than one piece of amber - at the beginning of the movie, we see an extensive mining operation - e.g. it wasn't some single random amber find. Even Hammond's cane had the amber piece on top of it.

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    In the novel, one of the things discussed is that InGen has become the single largest holder of amber in the world - Hammond has collected enormous amounts of it, despite it having no known industrial uses and being easy to synthesize. – Jeff Jul 5 '13 at 20:00
  • @Jeff - I decided against entangling the novel into the answer. You should post this comment as a separate answer as it's a worthy one, if you have the quote handy. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 6 '13 at 13:05
1

Well the first thing to note comes right out the movie. They replaced missing DNA with DNA of a frog. Also, only a handful of species were presented in the film; it would be foolish to assume that they had cloned more than 30 or 40 species. And as others have pointed out, they likely had quite a volume of amber pieces.

There is another point: DNA similarities among similar species is staggeringly high. Apes and Humans, for example, share over 99% of their genes. That means the difference between our species is less than 1% of our genes. In fact, all life on Earth shares about 50% of it's genes, so you could argue that a simple blood draw from any species got them half of the way there. Then after harvesting a few mosquitoes, they would have had a large percentage of the DNA needed to clone any dinosaur species. So, when evaluated, it seems that the species in Jurassic Park were not clones as much as they were genetic Frankensteins.

Now from a practical stance. The first Jurassic Park came out in 1993 and was based on a book published three years prior. Our understanding of DNA 20 years ago was much less than it is now, for both the common person and the geneticist. At the time, it was not a jump to say that DNA could be constructed and repaired somewhat easily.

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