Dinos’ DNA Demise: Genetic Material Has a 521-Year Half-Life
By Matt Kaplan | ScientificAmerican.com
A new analysis confirms the widely held suspicion that DNA from dinosaurs and ancient insects trapped in amber cannot be recovered to make a ’Jurassic Park’-style theme park
Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. Now, a study of fossils found in New Zealand is laying the matter to rest — and putting paid to hopes of cloning a Tyrannosaurus rex.
After cell death, enzymes start to break down the bonds between the nucleotides that form the backbone of DNA, and micro-organisms speed the decay. In the long run, however, reactions with water are thought to be responsible for most bond degradation. Groundwater is almost ubiquitous, so DNA in buried bone samples should, in theory, degrade at a set rate.
Determining that rate has been difficult because it is rare to find large sets of DNA-containing fossils with which to make meaningful comparisons. To make matters worse, variable environmental conditions such as temperature, degree of microbial attack and oxygenation alter the speed of the decay process.
But palaeogeneticists led by Morten Allentoft at the University of Copenhagen and Michael Bunce at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, examined 158 DNA-containing leg bones belonging to three species of extinct giant birds called moa. The bones, which were between 600 and 8,000 years old, had been recovered from three sites within 5 kilometres of each other, with nearly identical preservation conditions including a temperature of 13.1 şC. The findings are published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
By comparing the specimens’ ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on.
Read the full article at: scientificamerican.com
Latest News from our Front Page
Pope: Climate Change Agreement "Now or Never," Humanity on the "Edge of Suicide"
Editor's comment: Meanwhile, on planet idiocracy #PopeBars is trending.
In his most apocalyptic language to date, Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane returning from Africa that the COP21 climate change conference in Paris is the last chance for humanity to avert environmental destruction.
The pope discussed global warming and other issues during an hour-long press conference aboard the papal plane ...
Protest outside of asylum center after rape of 14 yr old Finnish girl
Tensions are high in Finland with an asylum centre emptied as protesters march outside.
Media reports of alleged rapes by asylum seekers have stoked up tensions as the country houses up to 35,000 new arrivals this year.
Source: Channel4News Facebook
Finns protest outside of asylum center after rape of 14 yr old Finnish girl
Swedish nationalists reach record poll support, could become largest party
The anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party has polled 19.9 percent, the group's highest-ever projected share of the electoral vote in a survey by Statistics Sweden.
Twice a year, Sweden's number crunching agency Statistics Sweden asks more than 9,000 people about their voting preferences in the country's biggest political poll.
In Novermber in a poll by Sentios, SD reached and all time high at ...
"Refugees" to be moved from Sweden by EU relocation programme
Sweden will soon benefit from a "relocation" programme for some of its asylum seekers, the European Commissioner of Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has said.
"Sweden is among the group of member states that has welcomed the highest number of refugees this year," Avramopoulos said at a press conference in Stockholm on Monday, adding that Sweden had made "tremendous efforts".
In September, the EU ...
"Clock Boy" Ahmed Homesick in Qatar, Wants to Come Back to Texas
Within days of demanding a total of $15 million from the City of Irving and the Irving Independent School District, â€śClock Boyâ€ť Ahmed Mohamed announced in a long distance phone interview from Qatar, he is homesick and wants to come home to Texas now.
In October, Ahmed accepted a fully-funded education scholarship from the Qatar Foundation, an organization with reputed ties ...
|More News » |