Mistake During Cloning
65 Million Years Ago (YA) -
The meteorite that created Chixulub crater hits the Earth. The damage to the environment so incredible that future life on the planet will imagine it to be an extinction event. Temperatures across most of the planet drop by 20 degrees Celsius under a reflective cloud.
A viral plague is sweeping through most chordate (back-boned) life at the time. The combination of plague and violent climate shift is the one-two punch that silences the fossile record.
One such chordate, a saurischian (lizard-hipped dinosaur) more specifically, is sick. The virus has written itself into the genes of the Dino - a provirus - but it doesn't matter, Dino isn't going to make it to foster children. Delirius, the Dino slips into a now icy river and drowns. In the cold conditions the Dino freezes into permafrost.
Entropy happens, even in ice. The complete Dino genome is destroyed, but fragments are preserved.
65 Million Years Later (the Present) -
We're successfully gene editing our food (both plant and animal) and cloning our favorite pets.
We've even become capable of splicing together fragments of ancient genes found in bits and pieces, using modern genes or computer simulations to rebuild the whole picture. The first success was the resurrection of the Wooly Mammoth from extinction. And, after a few mis-starts Wooly is doing well.
A project team wants to do the same with Dino, using tiny fragments of DNA impossibly preserved from 65 million years of entropy.
Jun (short for Junior)'s genome is a patchwork quilt of DNA recovered from different donors, none of it even close to complete. Part of Jun's genome is sourced from Dino. And the part of Jun's genome sourced from Dino includes the plague provirus.
However, the provirus is dormant. It's location won't become active until after hatching. Jun develops and passes every quality check the engineers can think to create.
Very recently in the news an entire generation of cloned cattle had to be put down, because a mistake made during the gene editing process inserted bacterial DNA into the genome. The mis-edit made it through quality checks because checkers were only examining the target gene, not nearby ones. While this isn't a bacteria, I want to show that despite great technology and great processes - mistakes still happen.
Since Woolys were successful and we're getting pretty good at editing, the top perceived risks with the new dino was just how it would get along : the baby is placed in an open enclosure for visitors to see (not environmentally sealed).
Baby dino becomes sick. There is software available to simulate and evaluate the behavior or medicines (and viruses), but the technical staff assume baby dino is sick from a modern illness, and don't think to check that an ancient one has hitched a ride through time. The project lead can't imagine a provirus not having gotten caught during Jun's gestation in the lab.
Researchers start re-evaluating the hodge podge genome for missed susceptibilities, and start making plans for baby dino 2.0
Birds, the modern descendants of Jun, are able to interact on the living fossil in it's open enclosure, feed off the bugs in it's stool, and so on.
Because of the lack of environmental controls, this ancient disease is again in the wild.