Scientists sequence million-year-old mammoth DNA
An international team of geneticists has managed to recover and sequence the oldest DNA to date.
The researchers extracted severely degraded DNA from the teeth of three ancient mammoths that are believed to have roamed Siberia between 700,000 and 1.2 million years ago. They pieced the DNA together to reveal a previously unknown genetic mammoth lineage.
Before this, the oldest recovered DNA sample was sourced from a horse bone found in the Yukon permafrost, which dated back to between 560,000 and 780,000 years ago.
Evolutionary geneticist Love Dalén, of the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Sweden said, “This DNA is incredibly old,” continuing, “the samples are a thousand times older than Viking remains, and even pre-date the existence of humans and Neanderthals”.
Around a million years ago, the well-known woolly mammoth didn’t exist yet. In an attempt to learn more about its ancestor, the scientists turned mammoth genealogy on its head.
The three mammoth teeth from which they extracted DNA were excavated decades ago and had been kept in a museum collection. The youngest, at 700,000 years old, belonged to a woolly mammoth – one of the earliest known.
UAE Hope mission returns first image of Mars
The United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission has returned its first picture of Mars.
The spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars February 9, which made the UAE the first Arabic nation to have a scientific presence at the Red Planet.
The image is expected to be the first of many.
Hope was put into a wide orbit so that it could study the planet’s weather and climate, which means that it’s able to see the planet’s full disk.
It’s a type of view that is familiar to telescopes viewing other planets from Earth, but is less common for satellites actually positioned at Mars.
They are usually stationed closer to the planet so that they can get higher resolution shots of the surface, and act as communications relays for the landed robots in communication with Earth.
“The transmission of the Hope Probe’s first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration,” the mission’s Twitter account stated. “We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity.”
Deadly winter storm sweeps US southern states
A winter storm in the US has brought wintery conditions to states that rarely see such storms.
Freezing winds, ice and snow have seen surges in demand for electricity, which has led to widespread power cuts.
Texas has been heavily affected by the storm, with the power cuts leaving millions freezing in their homes.
At least 21 deaths have been attributed to the storm, with deaths being reported in Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana.
The storm has even reached northern Mexico, where millions of people have also suffered intermittent power cuts.
February 16 the National Weather Service reported that over 73% of the US is covered by snow.