Ever since Pliny the Elder concluded that amber originated from the resin of extinct trees, humans have been fascinated with the presence of life forms in this magical material. What we do know about the formation of amber will be discussed, along with the characteristics of the enclosed fossils. The amazingly large range of plant and animal forms in amber will be summarized and the audience will be taken on a walk through the canopy of an ancient tropical rain forest. The ability to recover DNA from amber fossils, both plant and animal, opens up a new discipline in amber research. How close are we to bringing back extinct organisms from DNA in amber? These are some of the exciting topics that will be covered in the presentation by George Poinar.
About the Author(s)
George Poinar is on the faculty of the Entomology Division at the University of California, Berkeley. he received his B.S., MS., and Ph.D. degrees in the biological sciences from Cornell University. His background in zoology and botany proved invaluable for his later studies on amber inclusions. George Poinar has led the international research effort to extract preserved DNA from ancient amber encased insects and plants. His team holds the record for the oldest recovered DNA, 125 million years. His work was acknowledged in Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" and his photographs of fossilized insects and plants in amber have appeared in scientific journals, newspapers, magazines and textbooks around the world. With each subject, Poinar strives to record not only its physical characteristics, but also its artistic qualities. He has published more than 300 technical papers, scientific books, popular articles, and short stories, including his most recent book, "The quest for Life in Amber" .