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New discovery of 1.77 million old Rhino ancestor DNA

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  • New discovery of 1.77 million old Rhino ancestor DNA

    Source: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-game-changing-evolution-mysteries.html



    'Game-changing' research could solve evolution mysteries.

    An evolution revolution has begun after scientists extracted genetic information from a 1.7 million-year-old rhino tooth—the largest and oldest genetic data to ever be recorded.


    Researchers identified an almost complete set of proteins, a proteome, in the dental enamel of the rhino and the genetic information discovered is one million years older than the oldest DNA sequenced from a 700,000-year-old horse.

    The findings by scientists from the University of Copenhagen and St John's College, University of Cambridge, are published today (September 11) in Nature. They mark a breakthrough in the field of ancient biomolecular studies and could solve some of the biggest mysteries of animal and human biology by allowing scientists to accurately reconstruct evolution from further back in time than ever before.

    Professor Enrico Cappellini, a specialist in Palaeoproteomics at the Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, and first author on the paper, said: "For 20 years ancient DNA has been used to address questions about the evolution of extinct species, adaptation and human migration but it has limitations. Now for the first time we have retrieved ancient genetic information which allows us to reconstruct molecular evolution way beyond the usual time limit of DNA preservation.

    "This new analysis of ancient proteins from dental enamel will start an exciting new chapter in the study of molecular evolution."

    DNA data that genetically tracks human evolution only covers the last 400,000 years. But the lineages that led to modern humans and to the chimp—the living species genetically closest to humans—branched apart around six to seven million years ago which means scientists currently have no genetic information for more than 90 per cent of the evolutionary path that led to modern humans.

    Scientists also don't know what the genetic links are between us and extinct species such as Homo erectus—the oldest known species of human to have had modern human-like body proportions—because everything that is currently known is almost exclusively based on anatomical information, not genetic information.

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