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DNA and living cells

Identifier: Film Collection no. 174

Scope and Contents

The first part of DNA and Living Cells discusses, through animated modules, how DNA and RNA direct the synthesis of certain proteins that are vital for proper cell function. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is made up of nucleotides. A large number of nucleotides are attached together, in single file, to form a long strand. Two parallel strands linked together by base-pairing, are coiled together into a double helix. DNA occurs in the nucleus of the cell as a constituent of chromosomes, where it serves to encode genetic data. Its structure is translated into protein molecules via RNA, during protein synthesis. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, consists of ribose nucleotides in strands of varying lengths. Its structure varies from helical to uncoiled strands. RNA carries coded information from the DNA, in the nucleus, to the ribosomes, or the sites of protein synthesis, in the cytoplasm. Footage depicting pinocytosis, mitochondria, and the process of mitosis in living cells, makes up the second part of the film. Pinocytosis is the ingestion of either particles or liquid droplets by a cell. Mitochondria are the microscopic bodies, which occur in the cytoplasm of every cell, comprising the power plant of the cell and producing energy for many cell functions. Mitosis is the process by which a nucleus divides into two nuclei. Ed Wycoff, of Mazin Wycoff Co., and Dorothy E. Bliss, curator of the AMNH Department of Living Invertebrates, described the making of this film for the museum, as an "enormous challenge." In 1964 DNA and RNA were young discoveries and there was no authoritative endorsement to dictate how the double helix should be represented. Together they devised animated modules to demonstrate the various processes. DNA and Living Cells was shown in the Hall of the Biology of Invertebrates.


  • 1964

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (7 minutes) : silent, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (7 minutes)) : silent, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.


English subtitles.



Mazin Wycoff Company, producer.

DNA and living cells, 1964
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420