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Michael Crichton, author of the book that inspired the movie Jurassic Park, got the idea from the work of paleobiologist George Poinar, Jr. In 1982, He published a study describing their discovery that amber could preserve intracellular structures, such as nuclei and mitochondria, in an organism trapped inside (in this case, a type of fly). Years later, Dr. Poinar reported the oldest nematode fossil already known, also preserved in amber.

The oldest known nematode, Palaeonema phyticus, occurred in the stomatal chambers of the Early Devonian (396 mya) land plant, Aglaophyton major. Tentatively assigned to the order Enoplia, this fossil has characters of freshwater nematodes; however, it appeared to have been a plant endoparasite. [Poinar G. et al 2008

Palaeonema gen.n. triples the age of previously undisputed fossil nematodes and provides a crucial link in the evolutionary pathway of plant parasitism by nematodes by providing a minimum date when nematodes established associations with terrestrial plants. A good review on the field has been published in the Handbook of Zoology 2014 (chapter 6 “Paleontology of nematodes”).

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