On Friday, September 25, The Washington Post printed a story on Page A3 entitled +quot;Ent

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On Friday, September 25, _The Washington Post_ printed a story on Page A3 entitled "Entombed in Amber, Ancient DNA Hints of 'Jurassic Park'" under the byline of Boyce Rensberger, the staff writer who produces many of the "Science Notebook" pieces. Rather than type in the entire article, I'll present the salient points. Michael Crichton, author of _Jurassic Park_, got some of his ideas back in the 1980s from the Extinct DNA Study Group, according to George Poiner of UC Berkeley who organized the group in 1980. Crichton had heard about them, and they began sending him papers and newsletters. In the September 25 issue of _Science_ four researchers from the American Museum of Natural History report findings from a termite embedded in amber that are similar to those reported previously by Poinar, et al., in regard to bee DNA. The termite dated from 25-30 million years ago. The researchers are Rob DeSalle, John Gatesy, Ward Wheeler, and David Grimaldi. [Sorry not to have a full reference, but my library did not have the latest issue of _Science_ as of yesterday.] The AMNH work addresses the question of how termites are related to cock- roaches. The findings suggest that the two evolved from a common ancestor instead of termites being descended from a branch of the roaches. Regarding _Jurassic Park_, Poinar is quoted as saying it "is not so far away. It's theoretically possible that you could get dinosaur DNA from them [biting midges from the Cretaceous containing dinosaur blood]." However, "there would be enormous technical problems recreating a whole dinosaur." The problems are damage to the ancient DNA [Crichton's characters get around this by splicing in modern DNA] and the fact that this hasn't even been done for an extant species with undamaged DNA.


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