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The Amber Time Machine

This stingless bee had already collected resin from the algarrobo tree and secured it on its hind legs before it somehow got entombed, beginning an epochal journey.


Today on Far Future Horizons we join host David Attenborough on a twenty million year odyssey as he tries to reconstruct a prehistoric world frozen in time inside a piece of amber.





The Amber Time Machine is a BBC documentary written and presented by David Attenborough. It was first transmitted in 2004 and later became part of the Attenborough in Paradiseand Other Personal Voyages collection of seven documentaries.

Like a creature out of a horror film, a resin bug looms over its intended victim, a stingless bee. In the end, both succumbed to the sticky resin.

The documentary shows Attenborough searching for the identities of preserved creatures inside a piece of Baltic amber that was given to him by his adoptive sister when he was twelve years old. It then shows how a group of scientists can reconstruct an entire twenty million year old ecosystem through pieces of Dominican amber. Examples include a tadpole preserved in amber after falling from a Bromeliad.

A scene from the motion picture Jurassic Park with from left to right; Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler and Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant

Attenborough then discusses the scientific feasibility of DNA being preserved in amber, and the science behind the 1993 hit techno-thriller Jurassic Park, in which David's brother, Richard Attenborough starred as John Hammond. Several attempts were tried, with DNA eventually being recovered from a weevil that was several million years older than Tyrannosaurus rex. Attenborough reasons that a few old, rare pieces of amber may contain DNA.



The Amber Time Machine is part of Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages collection of seven documentaries which is available from Amazon Books.




The Amber Time Machine
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