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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs