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November 9, 2006—They might be small, spiky, and spineless, but they're still family. In fact, California purple urchins share more than 7,000 genes with humans, making them closer cousins to us than are fruit flies and worms, animals more commonly used as models in genetics research. A description of the achievement, along with several related studies, will be published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. Gary Wessel is a biology professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a member of the Sea Urchin Genome Sequencing Consortium. The results of the genetic sequencing also held an unusual surprise for Wessel: The eyeless urchins can see. Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. Some of the oldest DNA sequences come from mastodon and polar bear fossils about 50,000 and 110,000 years old, respectively.
The Pleistocene horse genome Orlando and colleagues pieced together helped them determine that the ancestor to the Equus lineagea€”the group that gave rise to modern horses, zebras, and donkeysa€”arose 4 to 4.5 million years ago, or about two million years earlier than previously thought. The ancient horse genome also allowed the team to determine the evolutionary relationship between modern domestic horses and the endangered Przewalski's horse, a native to the Mongolian steppes that represents the last living breed of wild horse.
The team found that Przewalski's horses were an offshoot of the lineage that gave rise to domestic horses. Once considered extinct in the wild, Przewalski's horse was re-introduced into the wild from a captive population of only a few dozen. Extracting ancient genomes from long-dead samples is labor intensive, and there is a limit to how far back one can go. Studies on the half-life of DNA suggest that even under ideal circumstances, DNA sequences older than 1.5 million years will be too short to be readable. But the preservation environment of an ancient sample can help extend the amount of time DNA has before it degrades past the point of being recoverable.
The six-inch (15-centimeter) horse leg bone the team analyzed originated in the Yukon Territory of western Canada. To determine whether there might be any biological molecules left in the sample, Orlando and colleagues first looked to see if they could spot amino acids from collagena€”a protein found in bonea€”in the specimen. Once they identified and successfully sequenced those proteins, the researchers moved on to trying to extract DNA from the ancient leg bone.
As is the case with the majority of ancient fossils, most of the DNA they found was from bacteria that had populated the bone after the horse died. The recovery of a genome almost an order of magnitude older than any previous genomic information opens up a wide range of new targets for studying fossils at the genetic level, possibly including ancient human species, if they lived in cooler environments. Poinar, who was not involved in the current study, would like to see this applied to elephant evolution. He was not surprised that researchers were able to sequence a complete genome from 700,000 years ago. But he also points out that sequencing ancient genomes is more about preservation in various environments than the age of a specimen.
Fresh discoveries are redefining our understanding of when and how humans first migrated into the Americas. Scientists investigating the genome of a tiny aquatic invertebrate called the tardigrade, or water bear, made a very peculiar discovery. But they've got nothing on tardigrades, tiny water-dwelling invertebrates that are considered the most robust animals on Earth.
Not only can the tough little guys—also known by the nicknames water bear and moss piglet—withstand freezing temperatures, long periods of drought, and high doses of radiation, they're the only animals known to have survived the vacuum of space. A team sequenced the genome of a tardigrade species Hypsibius dujardini "to try to understand how it is that some animals can survive some amazingly extreme conditions,” co-author Bob Goldstein, a biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says via email. The tardigrade acquires foreign DNA via a process called horizontal gene transfer, in which genetic material is transferred directly between organisms instead of being passed down from parent to offspring.
The discovery of other DNA in the tardigrade is "really peculiar," says co-author Thomas Boothby, also a biologist at UNC.
As a cell dries out, its DNA breaks into fragments, and the cell membrane “becomes temporarily leaky as it rehydrates," Boothby says.
This allows big molecules like proteins and fragments of foreign DNA to pass in and out of the cell, after which the fragmented DNA repairs itself. Another factor that allows for the persistence of foreign DNA is that some tardigrades reproduce asexually, like the ones in the study.
The study animals are “all daughters of a single female tardigrade collected over 20 years ago in a pond in England,” and “essentially clone themselves every time they reproduce.” Boothby says. Self-cloning stabilizes the foreign genes, since each animal has two copies of them and no contribution from a second parent that lacks the genes. National Geographic Channels showcase leading explorers, scientists, environmentalists, film makers and renowned photographers. We found this very cool lamp, designed by Sebastian Bergne for Luceplan Spa, and thought it was perfect for our Inspirational Design series!

The design of the Curl table lamp combines both the light source and the light’s reflector into one curvy piece. Perfect for ambient lighting, the fixture does away with the typical lamp base so it can stand in various ways giving it a sculptural quality. Researcher Melba Ketchum led a team of scientists in a five-year DNA study purporting to confirm the existence of the hominin hybrid species commonly referred to as Bigfoot. The study findings suggest that the mythical creature known as Bigfoot is a human relative that emerged approximately 1,500 years ago as a hybrid cross between modern Homo sapiens and another as yet unknown primate species. With any news or emerging research such as this, there is alot of scepticism surrounding the study. Founder Mattias Lepp tells Mashable all you have to do is add water and batteries (not in the same place) — everything else is done by the sensors and software. The idea for Click and Grow began three years ago, Lepp says, while reading an article about a NASA mission in which plants were taken into space.
Lepp said Click and Grow should also cut down on the waste that comes from single plants being purchased in plastic containers that then get thrown away. On this Day in Science is a DNA 11 blog series featuring historical discoveries, births, or news in the science or genetics world.
Twelve years ago today, the International Space Station finally began operation two years after it was officially launched into orbit. The International Space Station is an orbiting laboratory and construction site that synthesizes the scientific expertise of 16 nations to maintain a permanent human outpost in space. While floating some 240 miles (390 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the space station has hosted a rotating international crew since November 2000. Simply by spending time in orbit, astronauts reveal much more about how humans can live and work in space. But the crew is also occupied with a full suite of scientific experiments, the ongoing improvement and construction of the station, and a rigorous regime of physical training.
COOL FACT: The state of Texas passed a piece of legislation in 1997 allowing US astronauts to vote even if they were serving a mission in space. Two high-profile entrepreneurs say they want to put a DNA sequencing machine on the surface of Mars in a bid to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life. Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to adapt his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for Martian conditions. Although neither team yet has a berth on Mars rocket, their plans reflect the belief that the simplest way to prove there is life on Mars is to send a DNA sequencing machine to the planet. Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like test site in the Mojave Desert.
If they were to find the existence of DNA through this experiment, it would undeniably prove that extraterrestrial life does exist. These funky tree lights were designed by Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs, a furniture design firm out of Vancouver. Pedersen credits the inspiration for the series to a lifelong love of NASA and space exploration along with the resurgence of interest that surrounds Curiosity landing on Mars. Though the overall concept is quite straightforward (pick a classic NASA spacecraft, combine it with another pop-culture icon that has the same name), Pedersen says that the devil is in the details.
Pedersen wanted to “give the pieces a feeling as though they’d been buried in some NASA file cabinet that no one had bothered to look through in decades”. Select your travel style--whether it's our signature expeditions, our active outdoors adventures, or our lower-priced journeys. Our newest small-group trips, provided in partnership with G Adventures, blend fun, hands-on exploration with meaningful cultural encounters, as well as more free time and choices. Like many other scientists, he has used the marine animals for decades as models to study human processes such as fertilization and embryo development. Genes associated with vision are active in the urchins' tube feet, suggesting that their limbs can sense light. But a new study published online today in the journal Nature reports the latest in the push for recovering ever more ancient DNA sequences. While this number suggests that the genetic diversity of the species might be too small to support, the study shows that Przewalski's horses are in fact more genetically diverse than domestic breeds such as Arabian and Icelandic horses. So it's highly unlikely that DNA will be recovered from dinosaurs, since they disappeared 65 million years ago, except for the lineage leading to modern birds. Permafrost kept the remains in a kind of cold storage for about 735,000 years until scientists dug it out in 2003. Archaeological evidence now firmly suggests human occupation began some 15,500 years ago, not 13,000 years ago, as previously thought. It may have to do with one of the tardigrade's survival skills—the ability to completely dry out in drought conditions, then rehydrate. Designed by Sebastian Bergne for Luceplan Spa, the unconventional lamp uses what’s known as “tuneable” LED lighting to adjust the white light temperature from 2400? to 3500? kelvin.
The team was a multi-disciplinary group of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology.

Many are thinking the study should have gone under peer review, before being released to the media. What are your opinions on her study? Your Fingerprint, DNA, and Kiss portraits are all individual representations of who you are – but how much do you really know about what makes you, well, you? With a special lighting technique he developed himself, Tozer manages to turn regular soap bubbles into stunning macro shots resembling something you would see in space. This gives me time to set the focus and size of the bubble, and manipluate the colours if I choose to.
The photographer claims to use very little retouching on his work, so what you are seeing here is the authentic details and colours of the bubbles. The pot contains electronics, sensors, batteries, a pump and a water reservoir; the cartridge contains seeds, nutrients and software (in a microchip) for growing the plant. You’ll also have to find a sunny place for your plant to sit, or at least somewhere it can absorb the sun’s rays, sunshine or not.
He began fusing technology with gardening in his own backyard in Estonia to see if he could grow plants with little or no care in a harsh climate.
The potting container is reusable; though the cartridges need to be replaced for each new plant.
Astronauts who reach the facility aboard one of these missions typically live and work in orbit for about six months. Crews have learned the difficulties of diet, in a world in which their sense of taste is decreased, and of getting a good night’s sleep while secured to a non-floating object. Astronauts must exercise for two hours each day to counteract the detrimental effects of low gravity on the body’s skeleton and circulatory system.
Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and company, Sythentic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from Mars. Called Tree Rings, the lights are made out of a beetle pine shell topped with mirrored Plexiglas that allows the embedded cool fluorescent light to shine through in the dark. Before joining the Geographic staff in 2006, he was a freelance science writer and author specializing in human evolution and biology. Samples from a horse leg bone more than 700,000 years old have yielded the oldest full genome known to date. In 2014 advances in DNA analysis enabled the first sequencing of a full Paleo-American genome, at the Anzick site in western Montana—confirmation that the ancestors of modern Native Americans did indeed originate from a population in Asia.
Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens,” said Ketchum. The samples from which the nuDNA is isolated are also from humans but with some contaminants or some other animal source mixed in. I blow down a straw to excite the surface of the bubble & spin the colour bands around.
There are currently 13 varieties of flowers and plants, and the selection is continuously growing.
He made several iterations of the planter and one very cold winter, he says, the device he created was able to grow tomatoes “very quickly.” The company grew from there and officially launched one year ago. The sequencing machine would need to work in cold temperatures and in a very thin atmosphere made mostly of CO2.
I’m not sure of the practical application, but it appears the lights can be used as as small tables and bear enough weight to act as a stool.
Schuenemann of the University of Tubingen in Germany led an effort to sequence the genome of the Black Death pathogen, Yersinia pestis, recovered from the medieval grave.After examining Y. Once the woodcarving is complete, the image will be hand printed on paper and sent out to those who were lucky enough to get a pre-order in with the shop. Ketchum confirms that the team has sequenced three complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and has determined that the species is definitively a human hybrid. From what hair colour you have, to how long you will live, to whether or not you’ll have dimples! Occasionally a bubble will last much much longer than the others and it becomes increasingly clear as the colour bands move to the base. Martian genes might also be different from those in the bodies of terrestrial animals, perhaps being made up of different chemical building blocks.
I would like to know more about the source of the DNA, but I guess that will have to wait for the full details to be published.
If I blow carefully on these, I can sometimes create the almost colourless textures, the more moon like ones. The fact that the human DNA is modern human (hence the need for the alleged hybridization to have occurred so recently in the past) is most easily explained as the source simply being modern humans.

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