Liven up your next dinner party with our novice-friendly cheat sheet…
What is SCNT?
Somatic-Cell Nuclear Transfer or SCNT is a cloning technique used in the laboratory for implanting donor DNA into an egg cell that has had its own DNA removed. The ‘nuclear’ bit refers to the cell’s nucleus, which is the bit within a cell that holds the DNA. The idea is that you take the DNA-laden nucleus from extinct animal A and stick into an egg from abundant animal B, having first removed its own nucleus. If successful, the donor A will grow in host egg B.
What is DNA?
If you weren’t paying attention during Jurassic Park, DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It contains all the information needed to form an organism and is often described as a set of blueprints for the cells.
Why can’t we use the Jurassic Park insect-in-amber technique?
Because it’s harder than we thought. According to Dr David Penney at the University of Manchester, the idea of extracting DNA from an insect in amber is hard enough, let alone the DNA from a blood meal from an animal on which it may have fed. But do not despair! Scientists can – theoretically at least – reintroduce some of those dinosaur-esque elements (teeth, ankles) to birds by reverse genetic engineering.