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Dad inspired 'Jurassic Park,' son inspires 'Jurassic Poop'

November 15th, 2006 -- Twenty-five years ago American entomologist George Poinar's work on ancient insects in amber inspired Michael Crichton's futuristic thriller Jurassic Park. Now son Hendrik Poinar's groundbreaking work has inspired the world's first book on the science of fossil feces, Jurassic Poop.

The new children's book by Canadian science writer Jacob Berkowitz reveals that America not only has the world's largest heap of ancient human leavings but that the study of coprolites, or fossil feces, is literally re-writing American history, including who attended the first Thanksgiving.

Developed completely from original scientific sources, Jurassic Poop is the first comprehensive book on coprolites, full of facts and stories that are intriguing to readers five to 100.

"When I saw my first coprolite ten years ago, I thought no way, how could something as soft as poop fossilize?," says Berkowitz. "But coprolites are found on every continent and from every geological time period. There's literally tons of fossil poop out there, and it's now recognized as priceless for helping scientists piece together the puzzle of ancient life."

Jurassic Poop profiles the work of Hendrik Poinar, a professor at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Canada. He was the first ever to extract DNA from ancient feces.

While his father's work in teasing DNA from insects in amber benefited from the revolutionary genetic technological advances of the 1980s -- particularly the invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to duplicate and thereby identify DNA fragments -- Hendrik's benefited from medical advances. The technique used to extract DNA from coprolites uses a chemical developed for the treatment of diabetes-related complications.

"After being pooh-poohed by scientists for decades, coprolites have now been shown to be the best source of ancient DNA, better than bones and teeth," says Berkowitz. Hendrik Poinar is now
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Contact: Jake Berkowitz
jb@jacobberkowitz.com
613-256-8888
McMaster University
15-Nov-2006


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