Drink in the Past: Prehistoric Yeast Extracted Jurassic Park-Style From Amber is the Key Ingredient in a Modern-Day Beer

By | August 15, 2019

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Exhibition officer Sarah Teale holds the cane with a replica mosquito in amber that was used in the film Jurassic Park. The Cane is one the items on show during the Amazing Amber exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Source:(Photo by Danny Lawson

Remember that iconic scene in Jurassic Park in which scientists extract dinosaur DNA from a mosquito that became encased in amber millions of years ago? This concept made the entire blockbuster movie franchise possible. What if I told you, however, that the science behind reviving ancient organisms from the DNA in amber is real and proven effective? And what if I told you that instead of bringing back the dinosaurs—because we know how that would end—scientists are bringing back something much more useful? That's exactly what one biology professor did. The yeast he pulled from hardened ancient amber serves as the key ingredient to his appropriately named amber ale, which lets people literally drink in the past. 

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Inclusions in amber can be insects, microorganisms, and even larger animals, like this baby snake. Source: (pinterest.es)

What Is Amber?

Amber is a deep, rich, gold-colored semi-precious gemstone that has been highly prized since antiquity. Unlike many other gems, amber is organic. It's just fossilized tree resin or sap that has hardened under the pressure and heat caused by the build-up of layers of Earth. Naturally, other materials became easily trapped in the sap and remained there as the resin fossilized into amber. Often, it was leaves and other plant materials that got stuck in the tacky resin, but animals and insects were not immune to the stickiness. Gemologists call these bits of plants and animals found in fossilized amber "inclusions." Scientists call them "opportunities."