Ancient Yukon horse yields oldest genome ever

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A 700,000-year-old horse bone found in the permafrost of a Yukon gold mine has yielded a complete genetic profile, breaking scientific records and revealing many new insights about the evolution of horses.


The analysis of the ancient genome suggests that it is likely possible to piece together the genomes of organisms that lived as far back as a million years ago, said Ludovic Orlando, the lead author of the paper describing the discovery, at a press briefing organized by the journal Nature in which the paper was published Wednesday.

That "obviously opens great perspective as to the level of details we could reconstruct [about] our own origins and actually, the evolutionary history of almost every single species living on the planet," Orlando added.

Previously, the oldest genome ever reconstructed — one belonging to an ancient human relative — was just 70,000 years old.

Written By: Emily Chung
continue to source article at cbc.ca

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  1. “All of the tiny bits we were are able to piece back together and reconstruct informatically the entire genome,” Orlando said. It wasn’t easy —”

    They are not saying how this methodology worked, or the writer has simple popularization in mind. ( some sort of shotgunning, I suppose )

    Either way ( or some other I have not thought of ) this is a stunning advance for evolutionary genetics/biology and shows again why religion and woo are no longer needed in the modern age.

    • In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

      “All of the tiny bits we were are able to piece back together and reconstruct informatically the entire genome,” Orlando said. It wasn’t easy —”

      They are not saying how this methodology worked, or the writer has simple popularization in mind. ( some sort of shotgunning, I suppose )

      Either way ( or…

      They mean they had a massively degraded sample from which they acquired some cloned sequences , but filled in the gaps with a lot of guesswork.

  2. Imagine this is just the first of many such discoveries. Over time you would get a sampling of the genomes of millions of creatures. You could then interpolate to guess the genomes of animals we know exist but for which we have no DNA. We could then interpolate to guess the genomes of creatures we have no other evidence ever existed.

    With that huge bank of information, supercomputers might work out which parts of the genome control which features of anatomy or biochemistry. From that we could make detailed models of what each of these genomes would generate. From that we could construct creatures to suit.

  3. 700,000-year-old DNA reveals history of horse evolution

    While permafrost can do an exceptional job at preserving DNA, Orlando said even in more temperate environments, small pieces of DNA can survive as long as 400,000 years.

    Fortunately these natural freezers have remained intact all this time, but many permafrost areas are now melting, so opportunities like this need to be taken when they arise.

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