nature's preservative

time line illustrating the ever increasing age of DNA being pulled from samples of amber Time line
Technological advances, particularly polymerase chain reaction (defined), have allowed scientists to retrieve ever-older fragments of DNA from amber. Here's how fast the field of ancient amber-ology has been moving:

1984 Allan Wilson and Russell Higuchi, at University of California, Berkeley, extract pieces of DNA from a quagga, an animal that looked like a zebra. The quagga had been extinct for 100 years at that point.

1989 Svante Paabo, now at University of Munich, recovers DNA from an extinct ground sloth that was almost 13,000 years old.

1990 Edward Golenberg, at University of California, Riverside, retrieves DNA from magnolia leaves that were 17-million years old.

1992 American Museum of Natural History scientists recover DNA from a termite that's about 25-million years old.

1993 George and Roberta Poinar, working at University of California, Berkeley, extract the oldest known DNA, from a fossil beetle that's about 125 million years old.

1995 Raul Cano and associates at California Polytechnic State University report bringing bacteria back to life from spores trapped inside bees that were 25- to 40-million years old.

So what? Prove to me I should care about these yellowish lumps. What is the "who-cares" of amber?

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