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Age of Columbian and African Copal Determined


I've talked to Dr. George Poinar yesterday.   He has dated the age
of Columbian copal at 250 years, and the age of the East African copal
(from Kenya) as being only 30 to 40 years old.  Carbon-14 testing was used to 
determine the age.  The reason this is significent is that a number of
amber dealers have been  selling the Columbian and African copal as true amber
and claiming they were millions of years old.  Poinar said he was
rather disappointed at how young the copal turned out to be, and was
hoping it would be much older.  The ages of various amber and copal
are listed in a recent article written by Poinar in the Beeworld
journal (the article was about bees in amber, naturally).  He is planning to 
formally publish the results on the copal dating later this year.

In case you don't know who Dr. Poinar is, he has written a couple of
books on amber and has published numerous papers on the same subject.
He was the first to discover preserved tissue in insects in amber, and
was the first the extract DNA from amber.  He currently still holds the
world record for the oldest DNA extracted from a fossil, a 120 million
year old weevil in Lebanese amber.  Poinar's research inspired Crichton to
write Jurassic Park.

Ron Baalke