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Jurassic Park


poster "Jurassic Park," first released in 1993 but still just as crowd-pleasing, opens in the tropical paradise of Isla Nublar, home of InGen, a scientific and entertainment company of sorts. To create the world's first living theme park, InGen has cloned scores of dinosaurs by extracting dinosaur DNA from millennia-old mosquitoes preserved in amber. They've only cloned female dinosaurs, InGen CEO John Hammond (Attenborough) explains, to control the population and to eliminate aggression. What could possibly go wrong?

From the beginning, things aren't looking so great for InGen: An employee's accidental death and the impending lawsuit have prompted a safety investigation of the island's theme park, the aptly named Jurassic Park. But this was no ordinary theme-park mishap. It involved one of Jurassic Park's more unusual attractions—a velociraptor.

Along come the scientists to check the place out: mutual love-interests Drs. Alan Grant (Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Dern), and mathematician and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum, one of Hollywood's favorite scientists). Rounding out the cast are InGen's investors' representative Donald Gennaro (Ferrero) and Hammond's grandchildren, Alexis (Richards) and Tim Murphy (Mazzello).

It's not long before a tropical storm descends on the island, providing perfect cover for sneaky computer architect Dennis Nedry (Knight) to walk away with dinosaur embryos to be sold to InGen's competition. Nedry disables the park's security and power systems, and things only get worse from there.

A terrifying toilet scene, a knuckle-whitening chase scene, waste piles taller than humans, signs of spontaneous mutation, and a David versus Goliath fight in the finale—all through a constantly evolving plot filled with spectacular computer animation—still leaves this reviewer's jaw agape.

So, could the premise for this film be true? Could dinosaurs someday be cloned in the way the film describes if those mosquitoes were actually found? Katrin Hinrichs, an animal cloning expert at Texas A&M University, says, "Theoretically, yes."

In "Jurassic Park," genetic material from frogs is used to fill in gaps in the degraded dinosaur DNA. But Hinrichs says that for starters, scientists wouldn't use frogs for this purpose. "Information from collagen protein analysis from a T. Rex bone taught us the dinosaur's closest relative appears to be a chicken," she says. "The possibility of filling in the gaps with the chicken DNA is there, but realistically, it would seem to me if you had millions of dinosaur red blood cells—even one mosquito should have millions—you would have examples of DNA with different breakages in it and with those million different breakages and different areas intact, you could fill it in from there and have the accurate dinosaur DNA.

"Now the problem in using this synthesized DNA becomes that DNA isn't sitting around in a double helix by itself; it's wrapped in an intricate package of proteins that control which sections of DNA can be used and which cannot," Hinrichs continues. "We don't know how to produce these structures accurately so that they function, especially for a dinosaur in which we don't know the identity of the proteins.

"In addition, the chromosomes normally exist within a nucleus that contains even more proteins and other compounds that interact with the chromosomes. These intricate structures and interactions between proteins and DNA present a much higher level of difficulty to reproduce than does just sequencing the DNA. Currently, because of this, we need a living nucleus in order to do cloning," Hinrichs notes.

On the whole, Hinrichs thinks the crowd-pleaser hits fairly close to its mark in terms of factual accuracy. They took a bit of artistic license with the science, she says, but that's what Hollywood does.

Chemical & Engineering News | Reel Science -- Recommendation (Jurassic Park)