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Fossilised Eggshells Are Ideal for Extracting DNA

Jurassic Park is getting closer to reality. Australian scientists have managed to get DNA from fossilised eggshells of extinct birds. The Team warns though that bringing ancient creatures back to life is a long way off. Particles of fossilised eggshells from Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar were used in the research.

A target species was the Moa bird which lived in New Zealand into the 18th century. Another was the Elephant Bird which went extinct in Madagascar during the 17th century. Older birds were also worked on: the New Zealand Duck, Australian Owl and an Emu which was 19,000 years old. Work on older fossils did not come up with usable DNA, but the relatively recent ones did give promising results.

Techniques used were the usual reduction of samples and polymerase amplification. These were very short pieces of DNA obtained from minute samples. Eggshells were found to be even better than bones and hair for storing DNA.
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