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700,000-Year-Old Horse Found in Yukon Permafrost Yields Oldest DNA Ever Decoded

RATE THIS! +45
Posted in Science on 25th Nov, 2013 12:49 AM by AlexMuller

The frozen remains of a horse more than half a million years old have reluctantly given up their genetic secrets, providing scientists with the oldest DNA ever sequenced.

 
The horse was discovered in 2003 in the ancient permafrost of Canada’s west-central Yukon Territory, not far from the Alaskan border.
 
And although the animal was dated to between 560,000 and 780,000 years old, an international team of researchers was able to use a new combination of techniques to decipher its genetic code.
 
Among the team’s findings is that the genus Equus — which includes all horses, donkeys, and zebras — dates back more than 4 million years, twice as long ago as scientists had previously believed.
 
“When we started the project, everyone — including us, to be honest — thought it was impossible,” said Dr. Ludovic Orlando of the University of Copenhagen, who coordinated the research, in a statement to Western Digs.
 
“And it was to some extent, with the methods available by then. So it’s clearly methodological advances that made this possible.”
 
Orlando and his colleagues published their findings this summer in the journal Nature; he discussed them today in a lecture at The Royal Society, London.
 
Previous to this, the oldest genome ever sequenced was of a 120,000-year-old polar bear — no small feat considering that the half-life of a DNA molecule is estimated to be about 521 years. By this reckoning, even under the best conditions, DNA could remain intact for no more than 6.8 million years.

Tags: icehorseDNAgeneticsgenetic sequencingCanadapermafrost

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+2
DNA sequencing methods are so much improved now - this achievement shows that now remarkable things can be done
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+1
Yes, the ability to sequence genomes at low cost and quickly is helping studies of evolution - DNA analysis together with fossil data give much more accurate picture Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+1
Finding about evolution is not only about the past. This can help understand how we can change some part of our cells to be more adaptable and restore some lost advantages
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+0
They made some important connections for understanding evolution. They used other fossils and modern domestic horse to compare Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+1
These comparisons allowed the scientists to construct “a molecular clock” that can reveal the key changes in the horse’s evolutionary history
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+0
They also worked out genetic variations, and therefore population size, over time- more animals during cooler periods as grasslands grew, and contractions in size during times of warming Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+0
So much was reconstructed from this work- great Reply
Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+0
This is a great study. We now believe and have a good evidence that shared ancestor of all horses, donkeys, and zebras lived more than 4 million years ago.
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-25
+0
This shared ancestor is much older that previously estimated- a new important finding Reply
Reply


 

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