Posted by Zia Shah
Every proof of evolution can serve as a proof of Islam over Christianity: Darwinian Evolution: Islam or Christianity?
By Jonathan Ball
A fragment of a fossilised bone thought to be more than 700,000 years old has yielded the genome of an ancient relative of modern-day horses.
This predates all previous ancient DNA sequences by more than 500,000 years.
The study in the journal Nature was made possible because the bone was found preserved in Canadian permafrost following the animal’s demise.
The study also suggested that the ancestor of all equines existed around four million years ago.
A remnant of the long bone of an ancient horse was recovered from the Thistle Creek site, located in the west-central Yukon Territory of Canada.
Palaeontologists estimated that the horse had last roamed the region sometime between a half to three-quarters of a million years ago.
An initial analysis of the bone showed that despite previous periods of thawing during inter-glacial warm periods, it still harboured biological materials – connective tissue and blood-clotting proteins – that are normally absent from this type of ancient material.
And this finding was significant as study co-author of the paper, Dr Ludovic Orlando from the University of Copenhagen, explained to the BBC World Service programme Science in Action.
You would be amazed how much material of this kind is actually out there… museums are full of fossil material from all over the planet”
Keith DobneyUniversity of Aberdeen
“We were really excited because it meant that the preservation was really good,” he told the BBC.
“So at that stage we thought, let’s try a DNA extraction to see how much of the genome we could characterise.”
The multi-national team of researchers pulverised a fragment of the bone to recover its DNA, then subjected it to high-throughput, next-generation gene sequencing to unravel the blueprint of this antediluvian mount.
The first approach they tried resulted in relatively poor yields of horse-derived sequences, so they turned to a technology that could directly analyse single molecules of DNA.
This proved far more successful – but they still had an abundance of data to plough through.