Deep within the mudstones of Clarkia, Idaho reside some of the most awe inspiring fossils of the Miocene period. The fossilised plants and insects here are simply incredible. As early as 1975 Clarkia was put on the map due to its exceptional preservation of cellular and subcellular structures, but we are here for its potential to preserve a particular molecule. The one that controls heredity: DNA.
The potential for ancient DNA (aDNA) preserved in fossils had long fascinated palaeontologists, and in the (ultimately futile) race to find it in the 1990s, researchers cracked open and destroyed priceless fossils preserved in amber.
Read the full, original story here: Jurassic Park and the Race for Ancient DNA
- “Instability and decay of the primary structure of DNA,” Nature
In this review article, Tomas Lindahl wrote that most fossils trapped in amber simply couldn’t contain DNA because of its limited chemical stability.
- “Jurassic Park’ May Be Impossible, But Dino DNA Lasts Longer Than Thought,” livescience
Though the initial rush to find ancient DNA wasn’t successful, it did cause scientists to take a closer look at how long DNA can survive. In a study published in 2012, researchers put a new upper limit on how long DNA can last.
- “Fossilized Eggshells Yield DNA,” Discovery
Researchers look for ancient DNA in all kinds of fossilized remains, including fossilized eggshells.