A Flock of Genomes Reveals the Toothy Ancestry of Birds

A tidal wave of genomic information seems to wash up on shore each year.   In 2014, an especially large wave – in those days long ago! – came ashore in the form of 45 entire genome sequences of birds.   The relevance of these genomes and their hundreds of billions of letters of code representing all […]

Where’s the DNA? Young Earth Creationism and the Search for Ancient DNA

So how long can DNA or even cells survive in the environment once an organism dies?   This has been a topic of considerable debate in the scientific literature since the advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques.  This growing field of scientific inquiry is fascinating to me and promises to shed new light on old questions.  I have […]

NH Notes: Tardigrades – Animals that are Part Bacteria, Plant and Fungus

A new champion in the crazy genome sweepstakes has been crowned.  And it is a tardigrade. A tardiwhat?  A tardigrade, or better known as those lovable little “water bears” or “moss piglets.”  These tiny (<1mm) animals have always held the fascination of biologists not just because they are so darn cute and photogenic but because they are quite […]

A Flock of Genomes Reveals the Toothy Ancestry of Birds

A tidal wave of genomic information seems to wash up on shore each year.   In 2014, an especially large wave – in those days long ago! – came ashore in the form of 45 entire genome sequences of birds.   The relevance of these genomes and their hundreds of billions of letters of code representing all […]

Ancient DNA Redux: 700-Year-Old Virus Resurrected from Frozen Caribou Dung

Under nine feet of ice, frozen for 700 years, from DNA extracted from bits of caribou dung, a viral genome has been recovered and brought back to life.   Don’t worry this isn’t a case of mad scientists resurrecting the black plague for nefarious purposes.  This is the story of some inquisitive scientists investigating past environments […]

We’re Going on a Fossil Hunt to Find a Herpes Virus

There is a very recent form of fossil hunting that I have gotten to partake in to some small extent, and I can do it while sitting in front of a computer screen! With some computer skills and some knowledge of animal genomes it isn’t difficult to join this hunt for fossils inside the genome of living organisms.