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Fields & Applications Proteomics

The Proteins of Prehistory

The hit movie Jurassic Park sparked broad interest in paleontology by raising the tantalizing possibility of bringing dinosaurs back from extinction. In the film, this was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes preserved in ancient amber. That, however, remains a critical plot element and nothing more; the general scientific consensus is that DNA has a half-life of hundreds to thousands of years at most.

Proteins, on the other hand, have much longer half-lives – hundreds of thousands to over a million years under optimal storage conditions. Plus, we have long known that amino acids can be extracted from fossilized hard tissues. This knowledge, and a desire to look deeper, gave rise to paleoproteomics, an interdisciplinary field that examines ancient proteins to study the molecular-level adaptations of species – and evolution itself.

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About the Authors

Troy Wood

Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo, New York, USA


Connor Gould

Graduate Student in Chemistry at the University at Buffalo, New York, USA


Emily Sekera

Postdoctoral Associate at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

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