New DNA analysis technique may tell us how ‘hundreds of species’ evolved

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Dental record: the tooth provided the oldest genetic data ever extracted. Image: Natural History Museum of Denmark

Researchers say they identified an almost complete set of proteins – a proteome – in the dental enamel of the now-extinct rhino.

They mark a breakthrough in the field of ancient molecular studies and could solve some of the biggest mysteries of ancient animal and human biology by allowing scientists to accurately reconstruct evolution from further back in time than ever before.

This is especially tantalizing for those who study the storied evolution of the horse, species of which ranged across the globe before nearly all became extinct.

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“For 20 years ancient DNA has been used to resolve questions about the evolution of extinct species, adaptation and human migration, but it has limitations,” said Professor Enrico Cappellini, Associate Professor in Palaeoproteomics at the Globe Institute, part of the University of Copenhagen.

Related article:  Our ancestors may have evolved the ability to talk 27 million years earlier than we thought

“For the first time, we have retrieved ancient genetic information which allows us to reconstruct evolution way beyond the usual time limit of DNA preservation.”

The findings should allow scientists to analyse proteins from ancient fossils and build a bigger, more accurate picture of the evolution of hundreds of species.

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Read full, original post: DNA breakthrough expected to reveal fresh insights into evolutionary past

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