Forget Jurassic Park; DNA cannot last anywhere near 65 million years, researchers say.

Using bone fragments from extinct Moa birds that died between 600 and 8,000 years ago, researchers from Denmark and Australia calculated a half-life of 521 years for DNA in fossils.  While slower than earlier estimates, this rate of decay would put an upper limit of 6.8 million years for the last trace of DNA, by which time all bonds would be broken.  The finding was reported by Nature News, Live Science, New Scientist and PhysOrg, which said:

This figure is incompatible with the idea of finding intact DNA in an 80 million year old dinosaur remnant, as was famously alluded to in the Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park, but is much older than the currently accepted record of 450,000 to 800,000-year-old DNA from Greenlandic ice cores.

Some scientists are holding out the possibility that DNA could last a little longer under different conditions, say, in caves or permafrost.  “The calculations in the latest study were quite straightforward, but many questions remain,” Nature News said.  The oldest DNA claimed is from Greenland ice cores said to date back 800,000 years….

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