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A Comfort to Anyone Terrified of Dinosaurs or Other Ancient Beasts

Wired Science notes this week that a recent study of the bones of extinct giant birds has offered some new, very reassuring evidence that Jurassic Park will never ever, ever happen. Phew.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by scientists from the universities of Perth and Copenhagen, offers an estimate of the average half-life of DNA molecules. Wired UK's Ian Steadman writes that according to the study of 158 samples of moa bones between 500 and 6,000 years old, "DNA appears to have a half-life of around 521 years."

According to Steadman the result is "caveated" by the fact that many factors, like acidity, health, temperature, and humidity, can influence decay rates. "However, it does provide a baseline against which to assess the viability of obtaining DNA samples from future finds," he writes. "If there is a lot of DNA, preserved in absolutely ideal conditions, then it might hang around for several thousand years."

That means the moa, if well-preserved, is potentially in for future cloning. Dinosaurs — and other DNA-based animals that checked out 65 million years back — appear to be out. Steadman nominates the woolly mammoth as another contender. "We may even be able to reintroduce them into the wild."

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.