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DNA in Amber

April 30, 2014

Could scientists really get dinosaur DNA from insects preserved in amber?



Jurassic Park revisited. I’m Bob Hirshon annd this is Science Update.

A mosquito preserved  in ancient amber. (Didier Desouens/Wikipedia)

In the movie Jurassic Park, scientists cloned dinosaurs using DNA from ancient mosquito fossils preserved in amber.

Jurassic Park: They extract the preserved blood from the mosquito, and, bingo! Dino DNA!


The ancient mosquitoes supposedly got the blood from dinosaurs they’d bitten.

Jurassic Park: And now we can make a baby dinosaur.


Uh, not so fast. Scientists at the University of Manchester have now debunked the idea that DNA can be extracted from fossils in amber. Working in an isolated laboratory, biologist David Penney and his colleagues donned the kind of forensic suits used at crime scenes. Using so-called “next generation” sequencing techniques to minimize contamination, they were unable to detect any DNA from semi-fossilized insects in an amber-like substance, adding to growing evidence that a Jurassic Park scenario is purely science fiction. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.