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Fossil Revival

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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. 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, 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 
  • The Spider-Man foe Stegron invented a ray that allowed him to transform fossil dinosaurs in museums into living dinosaurs, which he then used to rampage through New York.
  • 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.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • In John Varley's Steel Beach, brontosaurs have been revived to serve as food animals on the Moon.
  • In the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, dragons are dead 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.
  • In the third book of The Immortals, 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.
  • Six years before Michael Crichton ran with the idea, a short scifi/horror novel called Carnosaur used this trope to recreate dinosaurs from mummified fossil remains.
  • 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.
  • "At the Mountains of Madness" has a pretty literal example: what appear to be weird fossils turn out to be dormant but alive Old Ones.
  • In Existence, chimeric neanderthals eventually 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 the Thursday Next series neanderthals are brought back as a species. Their pacifism had driven them to extinction before despite their greater physical prowess. Using Homo sapiens DNA to fill in a missing gap is a plot point later. Dodos and thylacines are also fairly common pets, and mammoth migrations a periodic nuisance. According to Thursday, there was a fad for reconstructed pets a while before the series starts.
  • 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 Raymond Z. Gallun's short story "The Eternal Wall" (1942), 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.
  • The Dresden Files in Dead Beat Harry Dresden 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, because she's so old, and the nature of the Dresden-verse rules, the longer something has been dead, the stronger they are when raised. And for added measure, unlike necromancy on a body that had a soul, as Sue wasn't once a person, it is a perfectly legal usage of magic.
  • In Peter Watts' 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. But, in the mid-21st century a biomedical corporation reconstructed their genome for their superior mathematical and hibernation abilities.
  • 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.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Modesty Blaise arc "The Return of the Mammoth" 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu adventure Spawn of Azathoth, Book 2 "The Spawn Approaches", section "The Andaman Islands". The spell "Call Children of Atlach-Nacha" can be used to return spider fossils to life.
  • A supplement for 3rd Edition D&D included 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.
  • The Walking Fossil is a monster in Deadlands: an animated stone skeleton of a dinosaur.
  • In Pathfinder, Necromancy can reanimate fossils into a nasty skeleton variant that can petrify creatures with a touch.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Nearly every generation of the main series has a place where players could take their fossils to to be revived as Pokémon. The resulting Pokémon are also always part-Rock type (with the exception of Cranidos and its evolution Rampardos, which are purely Rock type).
    • 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 Las Plagas of Resident Evil 4 are revealed to be prehistoric, and were recovered from fossils in an excavation underneath the castle. God knows how old they really were.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Extinct Animals expansion pack of Zoo Tycoon 2 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.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, there is a boss fight against a giant skeleton dragon, which is reanimated by Zant and his dark sword.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mac game Nanosaur is about genetically engineered sapient raptors from the 41st century going back in time to retrieve dinosaur eggs.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Dr. Nefarious had Lawarence reanimate the Light-Eating Zegrute on display in the middle of the city.

  • Xombie: one of the main characters has a pet zombie velociraptor (as whatever brought about the Zombie Apocalypse reanimated dinosaurs in the museum).
  • In Schlock Mercenary apatasauri are occasionally mentioned on the news as zoo animals, in one "Schlocktoberfest" arc a Mad Scientist introduces Megalodons to a terraformed Pleasure Planet.
  • In 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • An episode of The Super Globetrotters featured Museum Man, who has a device that turns dinosaur skeletons back into live dinosaurs.
  • Futurama
    • In the episode "Jurassic Bark", Professor Farnsworth attempts to revive the fossilized remains of Fry's dog.
    • In a related matter, one of the Anthology of Interest episodes had Farnsworth turning Bender human by means of "reverse fossilization", which was also able to turn a toaster into a raccoon.
  • On 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Dr. Animo from Ben 10, is capable of doing this thanks to his Transmodulator which can somehow revive dead cells. He demonstrates this by bringing back a mammoth and later a T rex.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: The Warlock uses magic to bring a dinosaur skeleton to life to attack Jimmy Olsen in "Return of Warlock".

    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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