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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs