OCT 08, 2018 3:50 PM PDT

Harvesting Ancient DNA Samples

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The story of an ancient insect that found itself trapped in amber is not a new one, and while many people know it as part of the Jurassic Park movie franchise, scientists have tried it. In 1993, researchers recovered the body of a weevil from its amber tomb, and they extracted what they thought was a sample of its DNA. 

Many ancient genetic samples have been successfully recovered in different ways, including from museum specimens. The work isn’t always easy, but researchers have used them to learn more about animals that are now extinct.

Amber also happens to make a good preservative, preserving a trapped organism and dehydrating its DNA, all in an antimicrobial suspension. That dehydration is important; it turns out that water molecules can damage DNA over time. In living cells that damage can be repaired, but when that DNA is in a dead organism, those mechanisms aren’t at work. That’s when investigators have to hope that samples they’re recovering have been kept in the right conditions. Learn more from the video.

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2020
Health & Medicine
Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Children's Postsurgical Outcomes
JUL 23, 2020
Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Children's Postsurgical Outcomes
A study published this week in Pediatrics revealed racial disparities in postsurgical mortality and complicati ...
JUL 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
JUL 30, 2020
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
During a project sponsored by Space India and NASA, two schoolgirls aged 14 in the 10th grade discovered an asteroid nea ...
JUL 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
JUL 31, 2020
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
Researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) recently discovered how a parasitic fungus uses male cicadas to spread i ...
AUG 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
AUG 14, 2020
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
The Great Plains of Montana are home to one of the United States' largest land restoration projects, known as the Am ...
AUG 27, 2020
Health & Medicine
Africa Eradicates Wild Poliovirus
AUG 27, 2020
Africa Eradicates Wild Poliovirus
On August 25th, Africa was officially certified free of wild poliovirus, a tremendous milestone that was decades in the ...
OCT 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
OCT 14, 2020
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
CRISPR-Cas9 was THE buzz word in the world of science after the Nobel Chemistry Prize announcement last week. But depend ...
Loading Comments...