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With all the science of genetics, and genetic engineering, would reviving an extinct species possible? Yes, akin the story of "Jurassic Park".
Would it be possible now, with the science we have today?

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    It is certainly possible to revive bacterial species. Though it has not been done. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – picakhu Jun 5 '11 at 14:00
  • Jurassic Park specifically isn't possible via the cloning of preserved DNA because the half life of DNA is 521 years (scientificamerican.com/…). – Avi Mar 20 '13 at 7:45
  • @Avi, Well, does half-life mean only half of the preserved DNA will survive of after 521 years? If yes, then, if there is sufficiently large quantity of DNA... – CMR Sep 25 '13 at 20:14
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    Yes, that's what it means, but that also means that since the 65 million years since dinosaurs have gone extinct, then statistically it is incredibly unlikely that even a single base pair would remain. – Avi Sep 25 '13 at 20:18
  • @Avi: From a similar article, "But he [Mike Bunce] cautioned that more research is needed to examine the other variables in the breakdown of DNA. 'Other factors that impact on DNA preservation include storage time following excavation, soil chemistry and even the time of year when the animal died,' [Mike] Bunce said in a statement. 'We hope to refine predictions of DNA survival by more accurately mapping how DNA fragments decay across the globe.'" – CMR Oct 7 '13 at 3:51
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This is a slightly tricky question - in that it's certainly plausable that some species could be ressurected, but probably not others (at least, not with technology as it stands).

The easiest way - cloning from preserved tissue/cells.

For recently extinct species that have close living relatives, cloning is one way get them back. You could take the nucleus from a normal 'body' cell in the preserved tissue and implant it in the egg or a modern relative of the original species (so called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer). Researchers tried this with a sub-species of goat that went extinct at the turn of the century, but failed. It's likely that part of the problem here, is that embryonic development of mammals depends greatly on cues from the mother - and the domestic goat used in these attempts may have been a poor surrogate. I gather the mammoth example cited in another answer is attempting to take the same route

A harder way - creating a synthetic genome

For most species that people would want to resurrect, well preserved cells or tissue just aren't avaliable. In these cases it might be possible to use ancient DNA techniques get genomic sequences (especially creatures that die in permafrost like mammoths!). The problem here is going from DNA sequences as letters on a computer to a physical genome. It's possible to make a synthetic bacterial genome, but even that had to be inserted into an existing cell. Inserting a eukarotic genome into the nucleus of egg cell would be much harder, because eukaryote genomes are (mainly) big, and packaging them into chromosomes is very complex (try to ignore the 90s webdesign there...).

Once you'd done that you still have the problem of finding a surrogate the develop the eggs, or a machine to do the job. Not easy.

It's possible we will eventually be able to do all this. But it's a long from the synthetic bacterial genome to there.

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If you count viruses, then yes, it has been done: Reconstruction of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic virus

  • Wow, I just went to a talk at UW Oshkosh given by one of the lead researchers on this project. It was kind of scary, because they showed (without actually creating it) that it's very likely that H1N1 (the highly contagious but not-very-lethal one) and the H5N1 (the highly deadly but not contagious) viruses will recombinate to create a highly-deadly, highly contagious virus o_O – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 5 '11 at 16:13
  • +1, interesting; I guess the concept of life encompasses everything. – CMR Jun 5 '11 at 20:55
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    Viri are not alive though. So “revive” is not really applicable here. – Konrad Rudolph Jun 6 '11 at 9:34
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    @Konrad Rudolph: You're right, viruses are not actually "alive" on their own. But together with a host cell, they display all the (in this case unfortunate) characteristics of life. – Tim Pietzcker Jun 6 '11 at 11:07
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    Biology novice here, asking a very pedantic question: Do virus strains count as "species?" – Flimzy Oct 20 '11 at 1:29
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All the information that you need to revive an extinct specifies should be stored in the DNA. With present technology that means that you can theoretically revive specieses that died in the last ~100 000 years. There are currently efforts underway to revive mammoths.

  • maybe they should make a male and female, and we could restart the whole mammoth population... – picakhu Jun 5 '11 at 15:00
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    You need some genetic diversity. A male and a female are certainly not enough. – Alexandru Jun 5 '11 at 15:32
  • @picakhu: Try 500­ males and 500 females, then maybe you'll have a chance. – Jon Purdy Jun 5 '11 at 20:17
  • You need more than DNA... what are you going to put the DNA into? – david w Jun 7 '11 at 2:04
  • You need more than DNA... see epigenetics. – Oddthinking Feb 22 '12 at 14:27
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It is very possible, if you can find the DNA. Some people claim to have found dinosaur DNA, and if they have then it would still require at least an almost complete genome to create something (a living, working cell) with that DNA. Frozen creatures like the mammoths that are often found in Arctic ice would be much easier to clone than creatures from the tropics (for example, if you found a ground sloth carcass, it would probably be too far decayed, even if some original material was preserved).

  • As far as needing a complete genome, that could be supplied, in many cases (such as mammoths) by their modern day counterparts. – Darwy Jun 5 '11 at 21:12
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    @Darwy, that is true, but problematic - in the sense that if you "fill in the spaces" you can't be sure that what you are cloning is the "real" thing 100%... but I guess it's one of those things we'll just have to accept :{ – RolandiXor Jun 5 '11 at 21:15
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    Without wanting to get into the evolutionary aspect of DNA (I respect your right to your opinion regarding evolution), we can in fact follow the DNA 'down the tree' so to speak. We know how long it takes for mutations to arise in the genome, so we can estimate the 'fit' of the substitute DNA. – Darwy Jun 5 '11 at 21:41
  • Even if there was complete dinosaur genome (unlikely in the extreme) it wouldn't be possible to recreate a dinosaur. What would you put the DNA into? – david w Jun 7 '11 at 2:06
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    FWIW this is now almost a valuable answer. I’m saying almost because it’s still lacking references. If you can supply the references we could start upvoting the answer. – Konrad Rudolph Jun 8 '11 at 8:51

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