News / Science & Technology

    Scientists Map 700,000-Year-Old Horse Genome

    In this undated photo provided by Ludovic Orlando via 'Nature,' two pieces of a 700,000-year-old horse metapodial bone, just before being extracted for ancient DNA, are shown. (AP Photo/Ludovic Orlando via Nature)
    In this undated photo provided by Ludovic Orlando via 'Nature,' two pieces of a 700,000-year-old horse metapodial bone, just before being extracted for ancient DNA, are shown. (AP Photo/Ludovic Orlando via Nature)

    Related Articles

    'After Earth' Imagines a Hostile Future Planet

    Will Smith summer flick showcases actor's son

    New Dinosaur Species Was Crocodile Snack

    Scientists in Utah have determined that the ancient reptiles fed on a previously unrecognized small bipedal dinosaur species

    Teeth May Hold Clues About Early Man's Weaning Patterns

    Shorter nursing periods could have led to higher reproductive rates among modern humans
    VOA News
    Scientists have mapped the genetic code of a horse about 700,000 years old, making it the oldest mapped genome of any animal by 10 times.

    The scientists used a tiny fossil found in the Canadian Yukon, and while most of the fossil was contaminated with modern bacteria, they were still able to get a good genetic picture of the ancient horse. Scientists said that for every 200 DNA molecules extracted from the fossil, only one belonged to the horse.

    While the findings add to what is already known about ancient horses, the techniques employed could be used to map many other types of ancient animals, mastodons, bison and mammoths to early humans, lead authors Ludovic Orlando and Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen told the Associated Press.

    This "is breaking the time barrier," Willerslev said.

    The 700,000-year-old horse was probably about the size of modern-day Arabian horses, researchers said, but the horse probably lacked the genes for large muscles needed for racing.

    Previously, the oldest animal fossil genetically mapped was from 75,000 years ago. That fossil was of a relative of Neanderthals and was found in a Siberian cave.

    Scientists believe the new laboratory techniques may allow them to map animal genomes up to one million years ago and does not necessarily have to be used on fossils found in cold climates.

    Ross MacPhee, curator of mammals at the American Museum of Natural History, who wasn't part of the research, told the Associated Press "there's no reason in substance why we couldn't go back further."

    And while there is hope the techniques could be used to map an ancient hominid, Orlando and Willerslev said most ancient human fossils are found in Africa where the climate is warm, and that makes the DNA deteriorate more quickly.

    The work was published Wednesday in the journal Nature and discussed at a science conference in Helsinki.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John P. Tarver from: California
    June 28, 2013 12:03 PM
    When drawing conclusions from DNA one must consider the baseline of the global geological fossil record. From the fossil record we know that species occur rapidly following a mass extinction, the opposite of evolution. Therefore the speculation of this article can not be true. Perhaps it is just more social Darwinism pretending to be science?
    In Response

    by: Peter
    June 28, 2013 2:19 PM
    Tell me, what exactly does 'social Darwinism' have to do with science or evolution? It's an analogy to likening natural selection to the structure of a society or polity. It's not unusual that someone bent on denying evolutionary science would be unaware of that distinction.
    In Response

    by: Gavin from: Seattle
    June 28, 2013 1:37 PM
    Evolutionary theory predicts rapid speciation after a mass extinction. Do you know what Social Darwinism is? Because it doesn't have much to do with 700,000 year old horses.

    by: Curly from: USA
    June 28, 2013 11:37 AM
    This would be a great chance to resurrect this species by making a fertilized egg and a host for the gestation. That would be a great leap forward in the understanding of the past.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora