Can We Get DNA From Fossils?
Can we get DNA from fossils

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In 1993, scientists cracked open a piece of amber, took out the body of an ancient weevil, and sampled its DNA. Or, at least, so we thought. It took another few decades of research, and a lot of take-backs, before scientists could figure out how we could truly unlock the genetic secrets of the past. Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible: Katie Fichtner, Aldo Espinosa Zúñiga, Anthony Callaghan, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Anel Salas, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Kelby Reid, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, Svetlana Pylaeva, Colin Sylvester, Philip Slingerland, John Vanek, Jose Garcia, Noah offitzer, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Sapjes, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Yuntao Zhou, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Maly Lor, Joao Ascensao. Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Ruben Winter, Ron Harvey Jr, Joshua Mitchell, Johnny Li, Jacob Gerke, Alex Yan If you'd like to support the channel, head over to and pledge for some cool rewards! Want to follow Eons elsewhere on the internet? Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - References:


Jasmine P : the evolution of carnivorous plants would be fascinating. I know a bit how they exist now and the modern benefit to their ecosystems but what happened for plants to evolve digestive enzymes and, for some, trapping mechanisms? What do we know about the ancestor plants? Talk about any, nepenthes, drosera, sarracenia, fly traps, and others please

john pardon : the music made me suspect that there was a submarine in my room.

J Cortese : "Hm, this weevil seems to have blue eyes, be half Scandinavian, unable to smell asparagus pee, and have unattached earlobes."

Melanie Zollars : I’ve been binge watching all of these short episodes and I’m in love

Nosec : A video about the evolution of spiders please.

Amir Mograbi : Your endless enthusiasm to the topics covered in this channel is contagious

FPSGamer48 : What about a video that describes the larger extinct portions of the Tree of Life? Entire orders or even classes that just don’t exist anymore. Just a way to show how few types still exist when compared to the rest of time.

Cassidy Hayes : would you ever do a video covering the evolution of certain soft tissues, such as ears or cheeks, lips, even tongues? I was wondering a few days ago about which dinosaurs had cheeks, and how we know. I have seen some recreations of T-rex with lips covering its sharp teeth and I wonder how accurate that is.Thanks!

Pranav Limaye : "....and Steve." Gets me every time! 😂 (IDK I find it funny, how you hosts say his name)

AllSparkDragon : It took me a couple of weeks, but finally I caught up to the channel! I'm up to date with the videos and it was way worth it. This is without question, the best YouTube channel ever!

spoonikle : We must reverse breed chickens into tiny Tyrannosaurs. MUST. Tax dollars well spent IMHO.

Tenacious Taco : Half life huh ? Grab your crowbar everybody

Luzifer Lichtbringer : PBS Eons may well be one of the best channels on youtube. Thank you.

animalia555 : Science Marches On. I still love the Jurassic Park novel though. You can tell the author did his research. As mentioned it was state of the art for the time,but as mentioned Science marches on. One of the things I liked about is how it pointed how little you can about behavior from fossils. We try to make our best guess based on bones and, footprints and so on but it's so little compared to a living animal. I thin that's why extinct animals fascinate us so much because there's so much we don't know. Like wise when he took liberties on the animals behavior and biology I like how most of it was based on parts that don't easily fossilize. So on one hand obviously there was no evidence for it, and it was OBVIOUS artistic license but he also took care not to contradict the existing evidence at the time as well when he made stuff up. I found that an interesting way to do things.

Matthew Bishop : Woah, that Moa claw (2:09) reminds me of a Deathclaw from Fallout.

Logan Hollows : The evolution of ants from wasps would be awesome! Showing when and where social constructs started to take place

ssjlucario : This video is really cool keep up the awesome videos

Divine Dream : She's my favorite. Lovely voice

Critical Point : Great video, great information, great presentation, great presenter, everything top-notch.

Christian Schiller : Don't forget the DNA obtained from subfossils of glyptodonts, which proved they were actually nestled within the armadillo group, and various south american hooved mammals, which proved that not only were they monophyletic but also that they were closely related to the odd-toed ungulates.

StripyHorse13 : Just found your channel. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!! :-)

Quade Carter : This channel is the best ever. I’m so addicted to it

DoctorShaunB : Wonder how many times she said "DNA" (I'm too lazy to count, guess you could say it's in my DNA:). Great video and narration btw

We Are God : I've always tried to imagine a re-creation of what it was like in North America when Europeans discovered it. I imagine the Flora and the fauna in the migratory birds in the indigenous species would be quite a scene.

Dave Sulphate : The velociraptor @ 10:35 has broken his wrists :(

S. Holloway : Given that you mentioned one of PCR's biggest draw back - ease of contamination. The implications of that can create some issues in how we conduct forensics. And requires a great deal of care - when using it. More reason to build cases around multiple, different kinds of evidence rather than banking on just one element in the investigation. (Which also applies to how we research paleontology/archeology, too!)

odd burger 10th fry : remember the guy that wanted a vid about evolution of blood?

Kara Leva : Just wow. I learnt so much from this video. Thank you :)

Databing : great video. love the intersection of fossils and genetics. i would love to see a vid about indricotheres.

Patricio Iasielski : Great great great video! Please, a video about south american ungulates would be the greatest thing ever... Thank you for the amazing content

Kalina 2040 : I LOVE this episode. This was my undergrad dissertation! (10 years ago, and I was technically studying foresnsics but yup, this was it) Good times 😊

Spazz Maticus : So no dinosaurs? I'm going to cry.

Raza Siddiqui : Please make a video on fossils found in antartica, did we found pre cambrian fossils from there? please do a full episode on life on Antarctica.

Julio Rojas : Great show, awesome hosts! You rock, Kallie!!

Ed Hoff : Credits should go to the script writer on this one, well done.

Prehistoric Magazine : Excellent topic. Love this channel. Would love to do a feature article soon about this very topic.

william martine : very well presented. I always enjoy her videos.

Husky HO OH : Love the work!!! Please keep it coming!!

Teapot 21 : Please, please, please an Eons field trip to some of the researchers involved in this - this is absolutely fascinating stuff and I salute the army of amazing scientists and researchers doing this work.

01sapphireGTS : As always, top notch videos ( presenters & content ).

PtsMacCarron : This is the best youtube channel I've ever found in over a decade.

VanessaEmica Censi : WOW fossils <3 just what I wanted YAY

Zacimus Prime : They’re already bringing extinct animals back to life in 2020 they’ll be bringing mammoths 🐘 back👍🏻

tru7hhimself : there are a few errors in the illustrations here. half the animation for the pcr is the wrong way around. dna polymerase only works in one direction and the two strands are antiparallel. also there's an agarose gel in the picture of uv light. in this context the uv light is used to detect dna, not to destroy it.

Turmunhk Ganba : Could you cover the evolution of blood?

Jason Guth : I love this channel! Always great to watch!

The Real Flenuan : I'm loving this channel more and more

Sol Soman : I wanted to enjoy this episode but the music was too scary :(

Silt : For the book analogy at the end, I would like to add, that we have many many identical books chopped up in different pieces, not just one book