Last week a story appearing on the website Newshound.biz reported that British scientists had successfully cloned a dinosaur. Citing scientists and spokespersons from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), the story stated that a baby Apatasaurus named "spot" had been born from DNA taken from Apatasaurus fossils.
The story, as suspected by many, has now been confirmed as a complete fabrication. In addition to the ridiculous nature of the story and its glaring factual errors, no such announcement has been made by LJMU or anyone associated with the university.
The story's ridiculousness is plain for those with even a casual understanding of biology and chemistry. Taking a cue from the classic movie Jurassic Park, the Newshound story had claimed the baby dino DNA had been "injected" into "a fertile ostrich womb" - an absurdity, since ostriches lay eggs (as depicted in the movie). The claim that DNA was extracted from Apatosaurus fossils is similarly false, since no DNA can be extracted from fossils.
If those facts were not enough to expose the story for its falsehood, the story's quote from a purported scientist that "Within ten years, we could repopulate the world with dinosaurs" is the absurdity that exposes the hoax for the early April Fools' Joke that it is. The image accompanying the story has also been identified as a baby kangaroo.
Despite the story's lack of credibility, the hope of a real-world Jurassic Park sent the story into viral territory on Twitter. Hundreds of people tweeted out their reactions to the news expressing amazement and warning that the announcement heralded doom for humanity:
they successfully cloned a dinosaur what did they not learn from jurassic park http://t.co/rOxK3P3NXz
— adam (@BAGGYTSHiRT) March 31, 2014
Omg they cloned a baby dinosaur!!!!! http://t.co/FkC1kPcL1J real life!!!!! What a time to be alive
— (@abbiecaswell) March 31, 2014
The internet just informed me that the British have successfully cloned a dinosaur. Equally confused, excited, and terrified...
— ☪brittany☪ (@bondbritanybond) March 31, 2014
So apparently scientists at my uni have successfully cloned a dinosaur... Sorry what
— Icarus (@edajeladsnirg) March 31, 2014
The British just said they've cloned a dinosaur. I think there's a set if movies that says that's a dumb idea.
— Syd✨ (@Nitttney) March 31, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons