Hunting the Double Helix: How DNA Is Solving Puzzles of the Past

Hunting the Double Helix: How DNA Is Solving Puzzles of the Past

Hunting the Double Helix: How DNA Is Solving Puzzles of the Past

Hunting the Double Helix: How DNA Is Solving Puzzles of the Past

Synopsis

Stories about the way DNA is increasingly being used to reveal important, fascinating, and sometimes quirky facts about unsolved murders, deadly diseases, mysterious disappearances, animals that have long been extinct, and even human origins.

Excerpt

One morning a few years back, I was in my university office, busily photocopying a stack of boring scientific articles. Hearing a sound outside the room, I glanced up and found myself confronted with rather an unusual sight. Striding down the corridor towards me at quite a pace was a tall, thin man, with unruly shoulder-length brown hair and an eager, slightly wild- eyed expression. in his hand he clutched a small plastic bag, containing one small, slightly squashed, very dead bird. 'It's a bird in a bag!' he announced enthusiastically, stating the obvious, before turning the corner and disappearing into the genetics laboratory.

'Who was that?' I thought to myself. I was intrigued by this bird-toting stranger, and I was curious about exactly what he intended to do in a genetics laboratory with a squashed bird. It was by far the most interesting thing I had seen all day. I asked my supervisor, David, who he was. 'That's Alan Cooper,' David replied. 'He does ancient dna research at Oxford University, and he's over here doing some experiments on that bird today.' 'Oh, right,'

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