About This Show
Past Time is a podcast that explores how we know what we know about the past. There's a special focus on the fossil record - it is hosted by two paleontologists - but delving into the story of the past isn't limited to dry bones. Today's paleontologists use techniques drawn from other sciences including Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and Biology to figure out what extinct animals were like and how they lived.
Whether you are just starting to learn about the amazing animals that have called this planet home, or you have been fascinated by fossils for a long time, we hope you will join us as we dig into past times.
Keywords: Paleontology, Dinosaurs, Mammals, Reptiles, Birds, Animals, Fossils, Extinction.
Most Recent Episode
Episode 21: New History of Ancient DNA
The quest to recover ancient genetic material from extinct animals had its blockbuster moment when Jurassic Park came out. But where did the idea come from and who is trying to figure out if the science fiction of Jurassic Park can be science reality? We talk to Dr. Elizabeth Jones, a science historian at University College London, about her work digging through the murky early history of ancient DNA and the dynamic scientists who are trying to figure out how fossils sometimes preserve more than bone.
Dr. Elizabeth Jones recently defended her dissertation work at University College London on the historical roots of ancient DNA research. She also has experience as a field paleontologist. Here, she’s on an excavation looking for more traditional fossilized bone rather than molecular fossils.
One of Dr. Jones’s amazing contributions to the history of science is her work interviewing the people who have been thinking about and trying to recover ancient DNA. As a historian of science, she can put look at larger trends in how ideas get passed around between scientists, and how media and public interest affects the scientific process.
One key distinction to remember is there is a difference between researchers who are interested in recovering ancient DNA to study what it might tell us about ancient populations or the relationships of ancient animals to modern animals. There’s a whole separate field of researchers who are trying to figure out how to resurrect extinct animals using ancient DNA and cloning technology. These fi