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700,000-year-old horse genome shatters the age record for ancient DNA

700,000-year-old horse genome shatters the age record for ancient DNA

A multinational team of scientists led by Ludovic Orlando and Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen are analyzing the oldest genome ever sequenced, from a horse bone frozen in permafrost in the Yukon region of Canada. The specimen, dating 560,000-780,000 years old, is nearly 10 times older than the oldest full genome previously sequenced (a 120,000-year-old polar bear). The analysis used Single DNA Molecule Sequencing, in which a machine reads DNA directly without needing to amplify it. The ancient horse genome revealed that the common lineage of present-day horses, donkeys, and zebras arose 4.0-4.5 million years ago, twice as long ago as previously estimated.

Did you know? The Przewalski's horse is the only living wild horse species and is native to Mongolia in Central Asia.

2013