From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

How to watch Jurassic World Dominion – and the science behind bringing back dinosaurs

With the release of Jurassic World Dominion, we examine whether it would be possible to bring dinosaurs back from extinction

DeWanda Wise and Chris Pratt in (C) Universal Pictures film: Jurassic World Dominion (2022)
Published: June 16, 2022 at 4:22 pm
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On 10th June, Universal Pictures released Jurassic World Dominion, and once again, people are asking the question of whether it would be possible to bring dinosaurs back from extinction. So we took a look at the new movie, which dinosaurs featured in it, and asked just how good the science behind the blockbuster franchise is: could we actually share the earth with dinosaurs one day?

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What is Jurassic World Dominion?

The third and final instalment of the Jurassic World trilogy, Jurassic World Dominion follows 2015’s Jurassic World and 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This trilogy follows the original Jurassic Park film trilogy, which began with 1993’s original Jurassic Park.

Owen (Chris Pratt) rides alongside a herd of parasaurolophus in Jurassic World Dominion
Owen (Chris Pratt) rides alongside a herd of parasaurolophus in Jurassic World Dominion

The action takes place four years on from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, with dinosaurs now living all around the world alongside other wildlife – and humans. An ensemble cast includes Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill reprising their 1993 roles.


Watch the trailers here

The first trailer was released in February 2022, and you can watch it here:

In April, Universal Pictures released a second trailer. Watch it here:


Which dinosaurs feature in Jurassic World Dominion?

As with all the Jurassic World movies, the real stars are the dinosaurs, whose lifelike images roar and soar across the big screen. And Jurassic World Dominion is packed with prehistoric creatures of every kind, from the giant aquatic lizard Mosasaurus to the old Jurassic Park favourites – Velociraptors.

In the air, the giant pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus torments our heroes' plane, while a motorcycling Owen (Chris Pratt) is hounded by dinos including Atrociraptors, Allosaurus and Carnotaurus.

A Quetzalcoatlus circles New York in Jurassic World Dominion
A Quetzalcoatlus circles New York in Jurassic World Dominion

The film also includes ornithopods such as Parasaurolophus, ceratopsians like Nasutoceratops, Sinoceratops and Triceratops, and sauropods such as Apatosaurus and the colossal Dreadnoughtus.

Therapods are represented by Giganotosaurus and Dilophosaurus, while we also see feathered dinosaurs, in the shape of Therizinosaurus and Pyroraptor. And of course, no self-respecting dino-movie would be complete with an appearance from Tyrannosaurus rex.

Check out these great dinosaur and prehistoric programmes from Sir David Attenborough:
Image of David Attenborough against a computer generated illustration of dinosaurs, with an asteroid falling in the sky in the background.

Could dinosaurs really be brought back from extinction?

Famously, in the original Jurassic Park movie, scientists extracted dinosaur blood from the gut of a long-dead mosquito trapped in amber and used the DNA in the blood to create dinosaurs. The mosquito had drunk dinosaur blood shortly before become ensconced in the amber.

A mosquito in amber, against a white background.
A mosquito in amber. © AGEphotography/Getty

But could this actually happen? Well, probably not, is the rather disappointing answer. It’s true that scientific studies have uncovered a variety of biological materials in amber, including amino acids from dinosaur feathers. The problem is that amber usually preserves only a lifelike impression or trace of an organism, and doesn’t protect molecules from degradation.

DNA is susceptible to hydrolysis, so any trapped moisture would cause the genetic material to break down. It’s not completely impossible, but as evolutionary biologist JV Chamary explained in BBC Wildlife, “Biology can’t beat chemistry. So it’s highly unlikely that amber could bring back Mesozoic reptiles such as Triceratops or T-rex. Sorry!”

Extinction event

Could any other animals be brought back from extinction?

The subject of bringing back animals from extinction – the science of de-extinction, or resurrection biology – has been hotly debated for years.

The original 1990 Jurassic Park novel by Michael Crichton sparked the idea among many people – some of them credible scientists – of whether it might be possible to turn his science fiction into science fact. A number of species have captured the imagination of these de-extinction enthusiasts over the ensuing years. In 2003, European scientists resurrected the Pyrenean ibex, a type of mountain goat that had relatively recently gone extinct. But when it died very shortly after, it became the first species to go extinct twice.

Woolly mammoth set in a winter scene environment
Woolly mammoth set in a winter scene environment. © Getty

Most recently, the conversation around resurrecting woolly mammoths. The abundance of mammoth specimens – some of them so well-preserved that thawing them out yields liquid blood – means that some scientists are hopeful of recovering a viable mammoth cell.

South Korea’s Sooam Biotech claims it would be possible to transfer the nucleus of such a cell to the egg cell from an Asian elephant. The idea would be to implant the resulting embryo – a mammoth clone – into a surrogate elephant to carry it to term.

In September 2021, software entrepreneur Ben Lamm and Harvard geneticist George Church announced the formation of Colossal, a new company whose landmark de-extinction project is to use cutting-edge gene-editing technology to tweak the DNA of an Asian elephant embryo and make it more mammoth-like.

But the ethics of de-extinction are almost as complicated as the science, as Henry Nicolls explored in our feature Should we bring back mammoths from extinction?


Why did the dinosaurs go extinct?

The fifth of the 'Big Five' mass extinction events occurred some 66 million years ago (MYA), and was responsible for the end of the dinosaurs.

There are a number of controversial explanations, but the leading theory is that a 10km-wide asteroid smashed into the Earth, leaving a crater 180km wide at Chicxulub in Mexico. A thermal pulse from heated debris spread across the globe, while the force of collision – equivalent to millions of atomic bombs – created shockwaves that triggered earthquakes, then tsunamis and wildfires.

Illustration of the K/T Event at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
The 10km-wide asteroid or comet enters the Earth's atmosphere. © Roger Harris/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
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In turn, the impact launched a vast dust cloud into the atmosphere, which coincided with gas released from volcanic activity and blocked-out the sun for years. That led to a nuclear winter and limited photosynthesis, which ultimately powers most life, and that in turn caused a collapse of our planet's ecosystems.

Authors

Paul McGuinnessEditor of BBC Wildlife and discoverwildlife.com

Paul is the editor of BBC Wildlife and discoverwildlife.com. A highly experienced magazine journalist with over 25 years in publishing, Paul was previously editor of BBC History Revealed and BBC Knowledge.

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