Paleogenetics is the study of the past through the examination of preserved genetic material from the remains of ancient organisms.[1][2] Emile Zuckerkandl and Linus Pauling introduced the term in 1963, long before the sequencing of DNA, in reference to the possible reconstruction of the corresponding polypeptide sequences of past organisms.[3] The first sequence of ancient DNA, isolated from a museum specimen of the extinct quagga, was published in 1984 by a team led by Allan Wilson.[4]

Paleogeneticists do not recreate actual organisms, but piece together ancient DNA sequences using various analytical methods.[5] Fossils are "the only direct witnesses of extinct species and of evolutionary events"[6] and finding DNA within those fossils exposes tremendously more information about these species, potentially their entire physiology and anatomy.

The most ancient DNA sequence to date was reported in February 2021, from the tooth of a Siberian mammoth frozen for over a million years.[7][8]

  1. ^ Brown TA, Brown KA (October 1994). "Ancient DNA: using molecular biology to explore the past". BioEssays. 16 (10): 719–726. doi:10.1002/bies.950161006. PMID 7980476. S2CID 27567988.
  2. ^ Pääbo S, Poinar H, Serre D, Jaenicke-Despres V, Hebler J, Rohland N, et al. (2004). "Genetic analyses from ancient DNA". Annual Review of Genetics. 38: 645–679. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.37.110801.143214. PMID 15568989.
  3. ^ Pauling L, Zuckerkandl E, Henriksen T, Lövstad R (1963). "Chemical Paleogenetics: Molecular "Restoration Studies" of Extinct Forms of Life". Acta Chemica Scandinavica. 17 (supl): 9–16. doi:10.3891/acta.chem.scand.17s-0009.
  4. ^ Higuchi R, Bowman B, Freiberger M, Ryder OA, Wilson AC (1984). "DNA sequences from the quagga, an extinct member of the horse family". Nature. 312 (5991): 282–284. Bibcode:1984Natur.312..282H. doi:10.1038/312282a0. PMID 6504142. S2CID 4313241.
  5. ^ Gibbons A (December 2010). "Tiny time machines revisit ancient life". Science. 330 (6011): 1616. Bibcode:2010Sci...330.1616G. doi:10.1126/science.330.6011.1616. PMID 21163988. "Paleogenetics: Unlocking the secrets from DNA of long ago". SciTechStory. March 6, 2011. Archived from the original on 2015-10-18.
  6. ^ Geigl EM (2008). "Palaeogenetics of cattle domestication: Methodological challenges for the study of fossil bones preserved in the domestication centre in Southwest Asia". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 7 (2–3): 99–112. doi:10.1016/j.crpv.2008.02.001.
  7. ^ Hunt K (17 February 2021). "World's oldest DNA sequenced from a mammoth that lived more than a million years ago". CNN News. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  8. ^ Callaway E (February 2021). "Million-year-old mammoth genomes shatter record for oldest ancient DNA". Nature. 590 (7847): 537–538. Bibcode:2021Natur.590..537C. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00436-x. PMID 33597786.

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