#dna

The Economist:

Despite what happens in the science fiction world of “Jurassic Park”, no dinosaur DNA has yet been found. The reason for this is that DNA is thought to have a half-life of 521 years, which means that, after that much time, half of the bonds between the proteins that make up DNA have broken apart; after another 521 years, another half have gone, and so on. This leaves very little behind after hundreds of thousands of years yet alone the 65m years or so that stand between humanity and dinosaurs. Even so, Dr Schweitzer and Dr Goodwin still wondered if the iron-based preservation process might allow DNA to bypass its typical half-life and last a lot longer.

Dino DNA!

But in recent years traces of soft tissue, such as blood vessels and bone cells, have been found in some dinosaur fossils. Now researchers have come up with an explanation for how these tissues were preserved for millions of years, which just might make it possible to extract some elements of prehistoric DNA.

Hold onto your butts…

Amy Harmon:

His quest to save the orange offers a close look at the daunting process of genetically modifying one well-loved organism — on a deadline. In the past several years, out of public view, he has considered DNA donors from all over the tree of life, including two vegetables, a virus and, briefly, a pig. A synthetic gene, manufactured in the laboratory, also emerged as a contender.

Which sounds absolutely insane, but…

Before humans were involved, corn was a wild grass, tomatoes were tiny, carrots were only rarely orange and dairy cows produced little milk. The orange, for its part, might never have existed had human migration not brought together the grapefruit-size pomelo from the tropics and the diminutive mandarin from a temperate zone thousands of years ago in China. And it would not have become the most widely planted fruit tree had human traders not carried it across the globe.

A fair point. Fascinating stuff.

Nick Thompson:

Grigoriev told The Siberian Times newspaper it was the first time mammoth blood had been discovered and called it “the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology.”

"We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died. Due to this fact the lower part of the body, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well," he said.

Grigoriev called the liquid blood “priceless material” for the university’s joint project with South Korean scientists who are hoping to clone a woolly mammoth, which has been extinct for thousands of years.

Hold on to your butts…

[via @zamosta]

Agence France-Presse:

The study reported that the institute’s team had stored all 154 Shakespeare sonnets, a photo, a PDF of a scientific paper, and a 26-second sound clip from US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I Have a Dream” speech in a barely visible bit of DNA in a test tube.

Ladies and gentleman, the future is here.