Monday, April 19, 2010

Ask a Biologist Relaunch

Ask a Biologist has been relaunched, and it looks fantastic. If you're unfamiliar with the site, it's pretty self-explanatory. Visitors write in with all kinds of questions and one or more biologists provide brief answers. A disclaimer on the front page makes clear that they are not there to provide answers for homework, and they often push readers to look to other sources to learn more.

Here's an excerpt of the response Neil Gostling of SUNY Oswego gave to "Is it possible to clone dinosaurs?"
The ideas in Jurassic Park were fun, and made a good story. However, even if you take 'biting insects' from amber (to look for blood from the last meal they ate, before becoming entombed in tree sap) there are two problems: Firstly the blood that they are eating is a meal, so it will be (in the process of being) digested, and secondly we don't have any amber with biting insects in as old as the dinosaurs (to the best of our knowledge).
You don't need to be a student, either. Got a question that's burning a hole in your brain? Go on and ask a biologist.

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