Like so many other plants and animals, countless species of aromatic flowers have gone extinct over the millennia. That means it's entirely possible that certain aromas have also gone extinct. If you've ever wondered what an orchid from the Pliocene era smells like, well, you're out of luck.
But, wait – maybe not. Scientists are tweaking existing fragrance extraction technologies to pull new odor compounds out of DNA information. By altering certain yeast compounds to match extinct DNA sequences, it appears that we actually can resurrect the scents of flowers that have long ago departed from the Earth. Naturally, perfume makers are already exploring the commercial opportunities of this approach. Obsession 3,000 B.C.? Why not? Jules Suzdaltsev has the story in today's DNews report.
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Seeker: Fungus Used to Brew Up New Fragrances
BrainFacts: Making Sense of Scents: Smell and the Brain
MIT Technology Review: Would You Feel Sexy Wearing Eau de Extinction?