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Fossil Revival

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Zombie T-Rex is all the rage these days.

So there's some creature long extinct, but there are fossils of it. Well, to twist an old saying, where there's a fossil, there's a way...a way to bring it Back from the Dead with a dose of Applied Phlebotinum.

Realistically, an actual fossil is nothing more than lithified remains, and little if any actual genetic material will have survived (if we're dealing with a straight-up Necromancer however, then the problem instead is that the process of lithification gradually replaces the bones with bone-shaped rocks over time). note  Sometimes the writers attempt to bypass this, by having said remains preserved in ice or amber. While this wouldn't work for most prehistoric animals due to DNA decaying over time, it's more plausible to the audience, so it gets a pass. Of course, when dealing with more fantastic ways of bringing fossils to life (such as the aformentioned necromancy), these objections don't really matter.


This one fits squarely under Artistic License – Biology. If the fossil is simply reanimated, that also counts as necromancy.

Sub-Trope to Species Lost and Found.


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    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD had a dinosaur park created from DNA cloned from fossils (note this comic was published twelve years before Jurassic Park was written). Judge Dredd runs into "Satunus", a particularly vicious T. rex that had escaped from the park, in several adventures.
  • Spider-Man: In one issue, Stegron invents a ray that allows him to transform dinosaur fossils in museums into living dinosaurs, which he then uses to rampage through New York.
  • InTragg and the Sky Gods #9, Tragg battles a Necromancer called Ostellon, Master of the Living Bones who has been empowered by the Dark Gods. Ostellon reanimates an tyrannosaurus skeleton to attack Tragg.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: The "The Return of the Mammoth" arc involves a plan by Soviet scientists to fertilise eggs taken from a frozen mammoth and carry them to term inside an African elephant. This is actually Ripped from the Headlines, although it's being done by American scientists and it's being held back by their inability to find a suitable frozen mammoth.

    Fan Works 
  • A Possible Encounter for a Phantom: Vlad Plasmius brings a prehistoric beast called a Terakon back to life that acts as his new living superweapon as Danny Phantom and Kim Possible seek to stop him and his new group of their villains called "The Faction" from reviving an army of these dragon beasts to life. However, the Terakon already brought to life seems to be smarter than expected to be.
  • Vigil: The quarians were driven extinct by the Ethereals long in the past, and in the present the geth want humanity to to help them revive the quarian species from genetic material they recovered from their bodies.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Doctor Mordrid: During the climax, the villain animates a Tyrannosaurus skeleton to kill Mordrid, who animates a frozen mammoth to fight it in response.
  • Jurassic Park: Over the movies' course, a series of companies recreate dinosaurs through fossilized DNA from amber-trapped mosquitoes and then use them to create futuristic theme parks. This inevitably backfires every time a new park is opened, with the dinosaurs escaping from their enclosures in some way or another and rampaging through the park.
  • Mammoth: An alien crash-lands in a small town that has a frozen mammoth in its museum. The alien gets inside of the mammoth, brings it to life and goes on a soul-sucking rampage.
  • Triassic Attack is about a trio of dinosaur skeletons (a raptor, Pteranodon, and Tyrannosaurus) being accidentally revived by a Magical Native American and going on a rampage.

  • Animorphs: In The Extreme, the Yeerks resurrect the Venber, an extinct alien species, to use as an additional variety of enslaved troops.
  • At the Mountains of Madness has a pretty literal example: what appear to be weird fossils turn out to be dormant but alive Elder Things.
  • Blindsight: Vampires went extinct around the time that humanity discovered architecture, as they have fatal seizures when they see right angles due to these screwing with their advanced pattern-finding instincts. By the mid-21st century, a biomedical corporation reconstructs their genome for their superior mathematical and hibernation abilities.
  • Carnosaur, written six years before Michael Crichton ran with the idea, uses this trope to recreate dinosaurs from mummified fossil remains.
  • The Dresden Files: In Dead Beat, Harry revives Sue, the Tyrannosaurs rex skeleton in the Field Museum of Chicago. It's straightforward necromancy (although Sue certainly looks and acts alive enough, complete with her old instincts and reflexes) and the effects ultimately temporary, but that it works on a long-petrified dinosaur skeleton instead of a more "regular" corpse at all puts it under this trope. However, by the nature of the Dresden-verse rules, the longer something has been dead the stronger its is when raised — and Sue has been dead a very, very long time. Also conveniently, as Sue wasn't once a person, this is a perfectly legal usage of magic.
  • In "The Eternal Wall", by Raymond Z. Gallun, a million years in the future prairie dog scientist Loy Chuk discovers the remains of Ned Vince, a man from the 20th century, who has drowned in an alkaline lake and been subsequently buried in sediments, leaving a petrified corpse. Loy Chuk's advanced technology is able to restore Ned on a molecular level, bringing him back to life.
  • In Existence, chimeric neanderthals become one of five recognized varieties of human. In the very end it's said that some of the Emissaries were enticed to cooperate with the new Artifact plan by offering to resurrect their species using salvaged alien technology that could create cells from scratch.
  • In "Founding Fathers" by Stephen Dedman, set on a newly-colonized planet, it's mentioned in passing that the animals the colonists brought with them as frozen embryos include not only the obvious things like cattle and deer but also mammoths and passenger pigeons.
  • The Godwhale by T. J. Bass has people on future Earth thinking about restoring extinct ocean life — they have the technology, it's just that restoring the complete self-sustaining system is a problem. They also try to restore another extinct and dangerous life form — a modern day human — in order to battle other similar creatures threatening them. In order for it to stay loyal, they create it without the ability to synthesize certain amino acids. That was sixteen years before Crichton.
  • In Great Gusliar, one of the short stories, Retrogenetics, is entirely about the trope. Professor Minz's recreation of several prehistoric species, including the pterodactyl and the cave bear, is extremely successful, and the animals live contentedly in a reserve. One journalist tries to badmouth the experiment, saying that there is too much danger involved with wildlife, let alone long-extinct wildlife. He is later bitten by his own Siamese cat.
  • The Immortals: In the third book, Daine flies into an Unstoppable Rage when she believes Numair to be dead. Said Unstoppable Rage involves not only amassing an army of living animals but also reanimating the myriad dinosaur skeletons hanging around the Carthaki palace.
  • ''Manifold: Space: One of the Gaijin's experiments following their arrival on Earth is the revival of extinct animals.
  • In Mirabile, it's mentioned that geneticists back on Earth were having some success in reconstructing extinct species, and a few were included with the plants and animals the colonists took to Mirabile. In one scene, members of the Australian Guild celebrate the imminent resurrection of the thylacine.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: At the series' start, dragons are extinct and all that remains are some fossilized eggs. By the end of the first book, that's no longer true, as Daenerys has managed to revive three fossilized eggs and hatch them into baby dragons.
  • Steel Beach: Brontosaurs have been revived to serve as food animals on the Moon.
  • Thursday Next: Advanced genetic technology has been used to resurrect numerous extinct species; according to Thursday, there was a fad for reconstructed pets a while before the series' start.
    • Neanderthals are the most socially impactful of the resurrected species, and are generally treated almost — but not quite — as people like modern humans. The use of Homo sapiens DNA to fill in a missing gap in their genome is a plot point later.
    • Dodos and thylacines are fairly common pets, and mammoth migrations a periodic nuisance. Stellers' sea cows are mentioned as well.
  • Elatsoe: Ellie is able to summon the ghosts of animals, which she uses to revive a trilobite. Also, her grandmother used it to revive a mammoth and tame it.
  • Stielauge Der Urkrebs: At the end of the book, Stielauge is revived by god in order to show the children his adventures.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Ultraman Neos features the kaiju, King Dainas, which originally started off as the fossilized skeletons of a T-Rex, a Triceratops, and a Stegosaurus. Being buried in a construction site which is filled with Dark Matter Energy, the resulting Dark Matter ends up causing the skeletons to merge together and revive itself into a kaiju-sized monster.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu: In the second book of the Spawn of Azathoth adventure, the spell "Call Children of Atlach-Nacha" can be used to return spider fossils to life.
  • Deadlands: The Walking Fossil is a monster in the form of an animated stone skeleton of a dinosaur.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: A supplement for 3rd Edition includes a template for animated skeletons created from fossils rather than recently-dead bones.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Project Riptide, where some scientists found fossils of the Sliver race and decided to bring them back and study them. It goes horribly wrong when the Slivers multiply out of control and break out of containment, overrunning the island and killing almost everybody.
  • In Pathfinder, Necromancy can reanimate fossils into a nasty skeleton variant that can petrify creatures with a touch.

    Video Games 
  • Fossil Fighters does this more directly, with dinosaurs being revived from fossils. However, the technology that does so is a little... funky, and gives the critters it revives elemental powers.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The boss fight at the Arbiter's Grounds is against Stallord, Twilit Fossil, a giant skeleton dragon, which is reanimated by Zant and his dark sword.
  • Mass Effect 3 has you search for fossils to resurrect a once dead dinosaur species called the Kakliosaur. Shepard even says s/he found the fossil encased in amber.
  • Nanosaur is about genetically engineered sapient raptors from the 41st century going back in time to retrieve dinosaur eggs.
  • Parasite Eve: Some sort of semi-sentient organic goo-thing, resulting from an accidental Assimilation Plot, disappears into the New York Museum of History. Apparently deciding that dinosaurs are awesome, it then flows across the exhibited skeletons and revives them as entirely fleshy — and quite aggressive — dinosaurs.
  • Pokémon:
    • Nearly every generation of the main series has a place where players could take their fossils to be revived as Pokémon. The resulting Pokémon are also almost always part-Rock type (with the exception of Cranidos and its evolution Rampardos, which are purely Rock type). The Pokédex entries for Tyrantrum and Mega Aerodactyl also reveal that the revival process is imperfect and that the resurrected Pokémon don't necessarily look the same as they did in prehistoric times.
    • Genesect was revived from a fossil by Team Plasma, who also turned it into a cyborg, making it a Steel-type rather than a Rock type.
    • The fossils in the Galar Region are very imperfectly revived and are created from two different fossils each, leading to horrifying Mix-and-Match Critters with obvious defects. As a first, none of them are part Rock-type.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Dr. Nefarious had Lawarence reanimate the Light-Eating Zegrute on display in the middle of the city.
  • Resident Evil 4: Las Plagas are revealed to be prehistoric, and were recovered from fossils in an excavation underneath the castle. God knows how old they really were.
  • Spectrobes has the titular creatures being revived in this fashion. However, their "fossils" are less traditional fossils and more stone statues in their shapes, making them more of a kind of Sealed Good in a Can.
  • World of Warcraft, thanks to the archaeology profession released in the Cataclysm expansion, allows players to find raptor fossils and rebuild them into a moving mount and pet.
  • Zoo Tycoon 2: The Extinct Animals expansion pack lets the player find fossils and clone a baby dino/extinct animal from it. If the player gets a 100% on the minigame required to clone the critter, the baby becomes a Super Clone, which is bigger, lives longer, and won't get sick.

  • Fellowship Of Heroes: A "Dr. Yesterday" cloned dinosaurs in sufficient numbers that a couple of states had to be evacuated. Texas domesticated them however, resulting in mammoth steaks and brachiosaur rodeos.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Apatosauri are occasionally mentioned on the news as zoo animals, in one "Schlocktoberfest" arc a Mad Scientist introduces megalodons to a terraformed Pleasure Planet.
  • Supermegatopia: The supervillain Carrion raids a natural museum to reanimate its dinosaur skeletons to aid his nefarious plan to find the crown of a king he hated and repurpose it as a litterbox.
  • Xombie: one of the main characters has a pet zombie velociraptor (as whatever brought about the Zombie Apocalypse reanimated dinosaurs in the museum).

    Web Original 
  • Left Foot Living Review mentions a religious sect funding research to bring back dinosaurs, apparently with the intent of throwing rocks at them.
  • Orion's Arm features lazurogenics, which has reconstructed and many extinct or even cryptozoological species. Most of them have been provolved such as the Toh Chi Lok, some of whom have transcended to form the archailect "The Archosaurian Entity."
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-250 is one of the few that doesn't require particularly stringent safety protocols, because it's an animated Allosaurus skeleton that behaves like, well, a large predatory carnosaur. It even eats things, though as soon as they fall though its nonexistent throat it loses interest in them, considering them eaten.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon: Being a Let's Play of Pokémon, has naturally encountered some of these. Unlike the Pokemon example, however, the fossil Pokemon are revered as long-dead deities: Dome and Helix (Order and Chaos), Root and Claw (Speech and Silence), Armor and Skull (Strategy and Luck), Plume and Cover (Death and Life), Jaw and Sail (Alternate Dimensions), and finally Amber and Drive (Balance and Imbalance). Helix is generally considered the patron god of the Voices, although the host Alice was Dome-aligned and the host AJ actually killed Helix.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • Dr. Animo can do this thanks to his Transmodulator which can somehow revive dead cells. He demonstrates this by bringing back a mammoth and later a T rex.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse: Dr Pscyhobos obtains DNA from a skeleton of an extinct Galvan predator to add to the Nemetrix which he intends on using to kill Azmuth.
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: While robbing the Natural History Museum, Sartana of the Dead animates several fossil displays with her mystic guitar. When El Tigre fights back, he finds that their bones are much tougher than the usual things Sartana revives, so his Absurdly Sharp Claws end up breaking instead of doing damage.
  • Futurama
  • The New Adventures of Superman: The Warlock uses magic to bring a dinosaur skeleton to life to attack Jimmy Olsen in "Return of Warlock."
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Kowalski creates a cloning machine he plans to use to revive an extinct penguin with a feather sample from a specimen in the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, the mission goes wrong and they clone a dodo instead, who turns out to be suicidally reckless, so they have to clone him again... and again, and again, and again.
  • The Super Globetrotters: One episodes features Museum Man, who has a device that turns dinosaur skeletons back into live dinosaurs.
  • Transformers: Prime: how Shockwave manages to create the Predacons. Just to remind you, we're talking about Mechanical Lifeforms here. He resurrected them using their "Cybernucleic Acid".
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?: Carmen Sandiego once tried to resurrect some large dinosaur from a skeleton. It didn't work, even with the other stuff she stole.

    Real Life 
  • There is a lot of talk about doing this for some extinct animals such as mammoths, but only a few extinct species are theoretically capable of being brought back with existing technology — as DNA is an extremely fragile molecule and decays very quickly, only very recently extinct creatures or ones preserved in unusual conditions (such as in Siberian permafrost) can yield intact genetic material.
    • The extinct Pyrenean ibex was the first — and so far only — animal resurrected by cloning, although it died from lung problems seven minutes after birth. In this case, however, the genetic material came from tissue samples taken from the last Pyrenean ibex when it was still alive. Currently, a team of Australian scientists is likewise attempting to revive the gastric-brooding frog.
    • Realistically speaking, there's no chance of getting genetic material for something as long-extinct as a non-avian dinosaur — there's simply no way for DNA to survive for the 65 million or more years since their extinction even in ideal conditions, let alone the process of fossilization. So sorry no T. rex that way, however it is theoretically possible to genetically reverse engineer a T. rex from say a chicken.


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