For the first time, scientists have succeeded in sequencing DNA that is more than a million years old. The genome is made up of three mammoth remains and is the oldest DNA studied to date. The previous record belonged to a horse.
Mammoth teeth, buried in the permafrost of Siberia for more than a million years, have made it possible to study the oldest DNA ever sequenced. This was done by researchers at the Paleontology Center in Stockholm. These are the remains of three mammoths.
The oldest of these mammoths lived about half a million years ago, according to calculations based on genetic information.
“The oldest DNA sample analyzed so far is about 600,000 years old. We have doubled this figure,” said Lūve Dalēns, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics.
The age of the mammoth genome is much older than the oldest sequenced DNA, which was from a horse that lived about 560 to 780 thousand years ago.
How long DNA lasts depends on both the animal’s tissues and the conditions under which the remains have survived to the present day.
“If it’s cold and the humidity is low, it’s dry, it’s longer,” said Anders Getterström, an archaeologist and geneticist at Stockholm University.
The remains of the three mammoths used in genome sequencing were originally found and excavated in the 1970s in Siberia, but were later stored in Moscow at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
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