A 2009 paper from Institute for Creation Research claims that the reason no DNA has been successfully extracted from dinosaur remains is because any results that don't fit the evolutionary model are suppressed:

Because evolutionary scientists are committed to only publish dinosaur DNA data that match their naturalistic tale of origins. Despite the amazing discoveries of soft tissue from dinosaur bones, dinosaur DNA research results (and other dinosaur "connective tissue" research) continue to be steered by evolutionary dogmatism.

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    If evidence was found that contradicted the evolutionary model, then there would be no shortage of biologists that would love to have their name immortalised as the man who struck down Darwin.
    – user22684
    Nov 13, 2016 at 23:12
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    Here's the basis of an answer: web.archive.org/web/20090816161631/http://www.newsobserver.com/…. Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at N.C. State Universityhas published a number of papers about extracting DNA and other organic molecules from dinosaur fossils. She has found proteins and DNA sequences similar to living birds.
    – Mark
    Nov 13, 2016 at 23:20
  • I've made it clear that this is about systematically discarding data, not occasionally (a single event would certainly not sustain the claim).
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 14, 2016 at 1:01
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    Note that at this point birds are accepted as being the surviving branch of dinosaurs, so finding a near match would be an entirely expected result.
    – keshlam
    Nov 14, 2016 at 1:17
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    @keshlam: The ICR seem to be arguing that birds are not descended from dinosaurs, and that scientists would know that if they stopped discarding non-bird-like DNA evidence just because it didn't match their theory.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 17, 2016 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


The short answer: No

The long answer: Also No

Here is why this does not hold water:

  • Until recently we were not able to extract soft tissues recently as in last 10 years. This is to the best of my knowledge but the first discovery of soft tissue in dinosaurs was about 10 years ago by Mary Schweitzer.
  • Most of the tissue is very old and it would be exceedingly rare for DNA to last that long (another ref and another one), so extracting enough DNA to run tests on it from a single fossil will be very challenging if not impossible. The DNA may degrade in ways we have not yet discovered due to the time variable.
  • If anyone could successfully extract DNA and read it it would make them an instant star in the world of paleontology, biology, evolutionary science, and many other fields. I do not have a ref for this since it has not happened yet so I will give you the person who is rewinding chickens.
    (Yes, it is a google search but this shows the fame / notoriety he has for something that is similar to this subject).
  • Scientists are unlikely to shy away from this simply to the prospect that it may break a current model of evolution that is generally accepted. Infact this may be a driving force. Scientists are like that - where ground breaking discoveries that overturn the way we currently see our world, are kind of golden prizes to scientists (E.g. there is a lot of excitement about faster than light neutrinos or gravity waves or this list)

So no, this idea does not hold much water if any. The only reason I can see for paleontologists to not attempt to extract DNA is the amount of material they would need to destroy for an infinitesimally small chance of getting reliable data (ref above for half life of DNA). I suspect they much rather wait a hundred years till something gets made to scan the fossil molecule by molecule.

These people are not extracting dinosaur dna but it's still research into extracting ancient dna from once living creatures: Absence of Ancient DNA in Sub-Fossil Insect Inclusions Preserved in ‘Anthropocene’ Colombian Copal.
If its too long or too technical then the very last paragraph sums it up pretty well.

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    A simpler version of this answer would conclude that scientists have extracted DNA from dinosaur fossils (so the ICR claim is wrong) and have published them (ICR wrong again) and they were consistent with evolutionary theory (ICR claim is totally bullshit).
    – matt_black
    Nov 16, 2016 at 10:22
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    @matt_black this would be correct and I agree with your assessment of ICR but we have yet to extract viable DNA from dinosaur tissue. We can see soft tissues in fact recently there was a piece of brain discovered and some skin but no DNA
    – Cc Dd
    Nov 16, 2016 at 10:38
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    I fear this begs the question. Scientists say they haven't been able to extract Dinosaur DNA. The ICR are claiming that the reason for that is the Dinosaur DNA that scientists have extracted is being discarded as obvious contamination, because it doesn't look like what was expected. You haven't shown the ICR argument is wrong.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 16, 2016 at 11:54
  • @Oddthinking the issue with their argument is it is endless they can continue to state contamination is instead "throwing away proof" but without getting into the actual nitty gritty step by step and all the facts behind modern DNA analysis one can argue this for eternity. At some point we need to say that without a reasonable doubt attempts to extract DNA from ancient things has failed with the current technologies and practices we have available. I have included some links in the answer to address this.
    – Cc Dd
    Nov 16, 2016 at 12:10
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    Paleontologist can and do extract DNA from fossils, however a major problem is many kinds of fossils are fossilized by groundwater, which has things living in it which contaminate samples. Some tests have shown so called fossil DNA actually matches a cross-section of all the things currently living in the local environment. This is why studies are so focused on things with a low chance of contamination like amber. royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2017.0544
    – John
    Jan 22, 2019 at 22:20

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