The Amber Time Machine
Amber is one of David Attenborough’s great passions – he is captivated by its beauty and the animals frozen within it in perfect detail. In a personal journey he traces the history of a piece he has had since he was a boy, traveling back millions of years to the age of dinosaurs to unravel its secrets.
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.
Attenborough then discusses the scientific feasibility of DNA being preserved in amber, and the science behind the 1993 hit 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.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 45 minutes)