Mammoth molars yield the oldest DNA ever sequenced

A genetic analysis of long-extinct Siberian mammoths has nearly doubled the record for the oldest DNA yet sequenced. The genetic material, from a creature that roamed frozen lands some 1.2 million years ago, pushes the study of ancient DNA closer to its theoretical limit—and reveals a new lineage of mammoth.

“I love this paper,” says Ludovic Orlando, a paleogeneticist at Paul Sabatier University whose team previously held the record for oldest DNA sequenced, from a 750,000-year-old horse. “I have been waiting since 2013 [for] our world record for the oldest genome to be broken.”

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Wow! I would never have imagined that we could recover DNA that old. So cool!

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InGen were doing it decades ago…

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…that anyone believes. There’s that Miocene plant, that Triassic halophile, and more than one supposed dinosaur DNA that thankfully never actually got published.

What makes the science of it believable or not?

Does it fit in with prior knowledge? Were the methods used sufficiently careful? Can the result be replicated? I recall a bit of claimed Triceratops sequence, never published, that was identical to the sequence of a modern turkey. It seems more likely that the worker managed to sequence his lunch than that a real Triceratops would match a modern bird.

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I think that the purported dinosaur DNA matched mammalian sequences more than it did living reptiles or birds. It was a case of sequencing one’s technician, or onesself.

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We may be thinking of different dinosaur DNAs. There have been at least two, maybe more.

It wouldn’t surprise me if some trainees would be calling me an old dinosaur.

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Nested hierarchy. The extended data are available without a subscription:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03224-9/figures/8

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