Contrary to the movie Jurassic Park, in which scientists recreate dinosaurs from ancient DNA, genetic material more than about 50 thousand years old cannot be reliably recovered. Nevertheless, a team of scientists has now demonstrated that computers could be used to reconstruct with 98 percent accuracy the DNA of a creature that lived at the time of the dinosaurs more than 75 million years ago--a small, furry nocturnal animal that was the common ancestor of all placental mammals, including humans.
Knowing this ancestral mammal’s complete genome--the sequence of As, Cs, Ts, and Gs in the DNA that made up its chromosomes--would not mean that scientists could bring it to life. (For one thing, synthesizing that much DNA would be prohibitively expensive and technically difficult.)
But that’s not the point. The point is to understand the evolution of humans and other mammals at the molecular level, said David Haussler, professor of biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "We will be able to trace the molecular evolution of our genome over the past 75 million years. It’s a very exciting new way to think about our origins, a kind of DNA-based archaeology to understand how we came to be," said Haussler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and director of UCSC’s Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
New study first to predict which oil and gas wells are leaking methane
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The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
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Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
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