The Lysine Contingency

The science behind this theory is detailed well in the books, and I feel the inclusion in the movie was a little shortsighted since very little came of it.

“The lysine contingency is intended to prevent the spread of the animals in case they ever got off the island. Dr. Wu inserted a gene that creates a single faulty enzyme in protein metabolism. The animals can’t manufacture the amino acid lysine. Unless they’re continually supplied with lysine by us, they’ll slip into a coma and die.” – Ray Arnold

This was of course, a complete failure. In The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III and on into the franchise the dinosaurs survive well without the crew giving them Lysine by eating Lysine rich food, like chickens or soya beans and the carnivores could acquire Lysine by eating herbivores.

The idea was that they took away the gene that produced lysine in the dinosaurs system, without the gene they could not produce the amino acid and the dino would fall into a coma and die within a couple of days depending on the size of the animal. In JP the dinos were able to get lysine from the environment. The problem is that no vertebrates produce lysine, and all the lysine that we NEED is provided by diet.

As for Hammond, he was concerned about the money. In the book it is better explained that it is VERY expensive to make a dino embryo, and they rarely survive. IIRC the survival rate was in the teens. Ingen is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the Japanese investors are getting worried that there is not return on investment yet(and Hammond had gone back for more several times).

The park isn’t even close to being ready in the book either. There are whole sections that are still closed, needing a lot of work. There is also more emphasis on how they were unprepared for the behavior of the animals, and that was causing a lot of issues with workers, and costing more money than anticipated.

Is the Lysine Contingency Plausible?

No, not really. No vertebrate animals living today can produce Lysine biologically, making it an essential amino acid. They survive simply by having a lysine rich diet.

In Jurassic Park: The Game

The Lysine contingency is mostly inconsequential in the movies, it does play a pretty big role in Jurassic Park: The Game. Laura Sorkin, another InGen scientist, says that the Lysine Contingency was “cruel and unnecessary”, and further calls it “a kill switch” to express her disgust towards Henry Wu’s idea. She won’t leave the island until she can add Lysine into the water supply and does just that in Water Treatment. She goes on to discuss with Dr. Gerry Harding if this was the right move.

Did You Know?

In the ‘Back on Track’ scenario in Jurassic Park: The Game there is a post-it note on Dr. Sorkin’s monitor showing the formula for Lysine accompanied by a note reading “Hammond re supplies late again”.

It has been spaculated that the Lysine Contingency Theory was inspired by the 1974 novel The Godwhale, in which a genetically enhanced warrior is created without the means to synthesize certain amino acids. The warrior is able to circumvent this limitation in a similar fashion by eating foods rich in the amino acids he is lacking.

The purpose behind the lysine contingency was to prevent the spread of the animals if they should escape captivity, by being rendered inable to manufacture the amino acid Lysine. The reality of the theory is flawed in that no animals are able to manufacture it. Bacteria and plants do however and it’s absorbed through digestion by herbivores. Carnivores in turn consume herbivores and break down the proteins which contain sufficient lysine.