George Poinar, Jr.

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George O. Poinar, Jr.
Born (1936-04-25) April 25, 1936 (age 78)
Washington, United States
Nationality American
Fields entomologist
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Alma mater Cornell University

George O. Poinar, Jr. (born April 25, 1936) is an entomologist and writer. He is known for popularizing the idea of extracting DNA from insects fossilized in amber, an idea which received widespread attention when adapted by Michael Crichton for the book and movie Jurassic Park.

Poinar earned a BS and MS at Cornell University, and remained there for his doctoral studies, receiving a PhD in biology in 1962. He spent many of his years of research at University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Entomology, Division of Insect Pathology.

There, and during travels around the globe, he performed research on the axenic culture of nematodes, nematode parasites of insects and the fossil records of insects and nematodes in amber.

In 1992 a team consisting of Poinar, his wife, his son Hendrik, and Dr. Raúl J. Cano of California Polytechnic State University successfully extracted insect DNA from a Lebanese weevil in amber that was 125 million years old, but more recent studies of ancient DNA cast doubt on the results.[1]

In 1995, Poinar moved to Oregon, and with his wife Roberta Poinar, a fellow researcher from Berkeley, opened the Amber Institute. Upon his move to Oregon he received a courtesy appointment to the Department of Entomology of Oregon State University.

Poinar's son, Hendrik Poinar, is a genetics researcher in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University.[2]



  1. ^ Hebsgaard, Martin B.; Phillips, Matthew J.; Willerslev, Eske (2005), "Geologically ancient DNA: fact or artefact?", Trends in Microbiology 13 (5): 212–220, doi:10.1016/j.tim.2005.03.010, PMID 15866038 
  2. ^ Poinar, Jr (and Poinar), George (and Roberta) (2008). What Bugged the Dinosaurs?: Insects, disease, and death in the Cretaceous. Princeton University Press. 

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