World’s Oldest Full Genome Revealed by Scientists
A new study published in the journal Nature has reported on the oldest ever full genome which comes from a 700,000 year-old horse leg bone leading to the question of how far back we can go in recovering ancient DNA.
Prior to the latest accomplishment, the oldest DNA sequence came from a 110,000 year-old polar bear fossil, but new technologies are allowing scientists to dig back further into our ancient past.
The team of scientists were able to analyse the horse leg bone, which was discovered in 2003 in the Yukon Territory of western Canada, because permafrost had preserved the biological molecules found within the bone for about 735,000 years.
The final genome that was pieced together has revealed that the ancestors of modern horses, zebras and donkeys arose about 4 to 4.5 million years ago, approximately 2 million years earlier than previously thought.
However, as well as revealing fascinating new information about the evolution of horses, the new study has deeper implications. For example, it was once believed that a genome could only be sequenced if it was up to about 80,000 years old. With the latest achievement, it raises the question about how far back scientists will be able to go. Perhaps one day, DNA will be recovered from dinosaurs, as well as ancient human species shedding new light on the origin of mankind.