A paper published October 10, 2012 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences attempts to measure the half life of DNA. (Full text not available for free but a good overview can be found here in Nature news.) By measuring the decay of mitochondrial DNA in bone samples of the extinct New Zealand moa, the authors find that DNA degrades by half every 521 years. Nuclear DNA appeared to degrade even faster? Does this mean that the idea of recovering dinosaur DNA and cloning a dinosaur is debunked? Not so fast, friends. The Nature article notes, “The team predicts that even in a bone at an ideal preservation temperature of −5 ºC, effectively every bond would be destroyed after a maximum of 6.8 million years.” This might be true, but if enough sample exists, the complete genomic sequence could be reassembled even if only very short fragments still exist. Indeed, this is how whole genomes are assembled from the short reads that come off of modern DNA sequencers, which are then assembled by special computer programs. Really, the limiting step in cloning a dinosaur is whether the DNA synthesizers of the future are up to the task of printing and assembling dinosaur-sized genomes, and of course the challenge of how to boot them if they can be synthesized. Will elephants be the surrogate mothers? Who knows. So keep dreaming, folks. Dinosaurs may be resurrected (or de-extincted) yet!