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400,000-Year-Old DNA Intact?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060714/sc_afp/swedenspainscience_060714171218


STOCKHOLM (AFP) – A Swedish-led team of scientists has discovered 400,000-year-old DNA in bear teeth, the Uppsala University in Sweden said.
The team, made up of Swedish, Spanish and German researchers, discovered the remains of the bear in a cave in Atapuerca, northern Spain.

“It is usually hard to find DNA that is older than 100,000 years, and work on fossilized DNA mostly focuses on material that is a few tens of thousands of years old, at most,” team leader Anders Goetherstroem said in a statement.

He said the find “pushed back the frontier” concerning the age of DNA that scientists could work with. “It means that it will be possible to subject a large number of extinct animals to DNA analysis,” he said.

This is pretty much a continuation of the Dinosaur Shocker Post…but now we have a “Bear Shocker”. This was my earlier comment:

Further discoveries in the past year have shown that the discovery of soft tissue in B. rex wasn’t just a fluke. Schweitzer and Wittmeyer have now found probable blood vessels, bone-building cells and connective tissue in another T. rex, in a theropod from Argentina and in a 300,000-year-old woolly mammoth fossil.

Those four being isolated incidents? Possibly. Then again, it’s possible that many fossils might contain soft tissues and people haven’t been looking for it since they assumed it wouldn’t be there.

So is this just another isolated incident or another bit of the tip of the iceberg? Of course, that Yahoo article “bearly” (yuck, yuck) has any information in it…I’ll look around later to see if I can find a better source.

http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/060724_fossil_bonemarrow.html

Scientists have extracted intact bone marrow from the fossilized remains of 10-million-year-old frogs and salamanders.

The finding, detailed in the August issue of the journal Geology, is the first case of fossilized bone marrow ever to be discovered and only the second report of fossilized soft tissue. In June of 2005, scientists announced they had found preserved red blood cells from a Tyrannosaurus rex leg bone.

“It pushes back the boundary for how far [soft tissue] fossilization can go,” said study leader Maria McNamara of University College Dublin in Ireland.

Preserved soft tissue could provide insight into the physiology of ancient beasts that can’t be gleaned from their fossilized bones alone. If scientists could find bone marrow from dinosaurs, for example, it could help resolve the debate about whether the creatures were warm-blooded or not, McNamara said.

………….

The researchers suspect that the bones of the amphibians formed protective microenvironments that prevented bacteria from seeping in and rotting the tissues.

The discovery raises hopes for finding soft tissue in other regions and from other animals, including mammals, McNamara says, because the amphibian bone marrow was discovered in an environment vastly different form the one in which the T. rex soft tissue was found.

It’s also possible that already exhumed fossils contain soft tissue, but that they’ve been missed because detection requires breaking the bones apart.

“Any reasonable museum curator isn’t going to let you go around smashing up the bones in their collections,” McNamara told LiveScience.

The researchers are currently testing to see if DNA or other organic molecules were also preserved.

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23 Responses to 400,000-Year-Old DNA Intact?

  1. I am curious to know how the DNA was dated. Do any of the articles say?

  2. Hmmm, there also seems to be a bone marrow find in 10 million year old frogs: http://www.livescience.com/ani.....arrow.html

    (Sorry, I don’t know how to make that into an actual link on this site.)

    The fact that scientists haven’t even been looking for soft tissue in fossils of that age would show that current theory does not in any way expect such a find. Though I am not a young earther, I find this evidence to be a compelling case for a young earth.

  3. bfast,

    I would think that this would indicate an old earth. 99.999% of fossils are found without soft tissue. If the earth was only a few thousand years old wouldn’t you expect more soft tissue findings.

  4. What is the Intelligent Design community’s position on a young earth? Is it simply agnostic about the issue? I’m not entirely sure why the article is posted here unless ID is attempting to promote the young earth theory – in which case Intelligent Design simply collapses into young-earth creationism. 400,000 year old DNA should be no less surprising to old-earth IDists than to Evolutionists.

  5. jerry,

    I think that was bfast’s point. If scientists haven’t been looking for soft tissue because they just assume it won’t be there, then maybe they will go back and start looking and realize that soft tissue is much more prevalent than currently believed, and thus there would be reason to believe that these fossils are much younger than we date them to be.

  6. I do expect more soft tissue finds. You don’t find what you aren’t looking for. Once scientists start looking for soft tissue they may find lots of the stuff.

    The truth is that soft tissue usually doesn’t survive very long at all, a few years is most usually plenty enough to dispose of it. If we add a world-wide flood killing off the dinosaurs, as the YEC hypothesizes, how much soft tissue would survive? Very little soft tissue surviving is consistent with the YEC hypothesis.

  7. 7
    John A. Davison

    DNA is one of the most stable organic molecules known. It is only labile when being duplicated. This does not surprise me in the least. I would like to hear from some of the organic chemists on these reports and their validity.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  8. This article seems to indicate that soft tissue was preserved from a 110 million year old duck.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13342029/

    Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is quoted as saying, “We went to Changma hoping that we’d discover one, maybe two, fragments of fossil birds. Instead, we found dozens, including some almost complete skeletons with soft tissues.” And also, “one of the fossils even has skin preserved between the toes, showing that it had webbed feet.’

    We all know that soft tissue and DNA cannot last millions of years. However, the tautological reasoning of Darwinism will find a way to claim that it does.

    It is also notable that this fossil is 100% bird, a duck actually, and an excellent example of sudden appearance and stasis in the fossil record. That doesn’t stop Lamanna from claiming that it is a missing link. Of course it is not a missing link, it is a modern bird. “With a few exceptions, you could put any of its bones next to those of a modern bird and you would be hard pressed to see major differences,” says Jerald Harris of Dixie State College in Utah. “In short, no one expected to find a bird this modern in rocks this old,” Harris says, referring to the shale formation where the team made its discovery. The shale dates to the early Cretaceous period, which occurred between 100 million and 145 million years ago. As a result of the finding, G. yumenensis now has the distinction of being “the oldest-known bird that is really, really modern in its anatomy,” he says.

    http://www.agiweb.org/geotimes.....61506.html

  9. BC:

    What is the Intelligent Design community’s position on a young earth? Is it simply agnostic about the issue? I’m not entirely sure why the article is posted here unless ID is attempting to promote the young earth theory

    I would suggest that ID, if agnostic on the question of a young earth, is solidly biased towards an old earth. With that in mind, this find is almost as surprising to the ID community as it is to the scientific community at large.

    I believe that there are two primary reasons why this article is being discussed in this forum:

    1 – IDers have a committment to let the evidence take them where it will. This is evidence. It must find its way to fit into our understanding.

    2 – This is an excellent example showing that the scientific community doesn’t “know” as much as it thinks it does. Further, it shows that our expectations inform our observations. IE, we didn’t find soft tissue earlier because we were not looking.

    Jehu: “This article seems to indicate that soft tissue was preserved from a 110 million year old duck.” This duck was discussed on this forum when it was first published. The conclusion of the “soft tissue” discussion was that most probably we are discussing fossilized evidence of soft tissue, rather than actual soft tissue. If actual soft tissue had been found, that would have been the MUCH bigger story than the story which was published.

  10. 10
    John A. Davison

    “The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.”
    Otto Schindewolf

    “We might as well stop looking for the missing links as they never existed.”
    ibid, paraphrased

  11. John Davison,

    Why did the bird have a completely different oxygen transport system?

  12. First of all, I updated the post with a new addition.

    Second, that duck has already been discussed previously here.

    Third, no BC I’m not a YEC.

  13. These articles does bring in doubt about some of the ages of these fossils but I wouldn’t go as far as it supports YEC position that Earth is a few thousand years. I have a feeling both 6,000 and 4.5 billions are extreme ages.

  14. Smidlee, agreed! The Earth can be 2.2 billion or 100,000 years old or even 100 billion for all I care…I’m not going to turn that into dogma. I just want to know what it truly is.

  15. > IDers have a committment to let the evidence take them where it will.

    Okay, but the IDists who continue to believe in an old-earth in light of this finding – aren’t they in pretty much the same position as evolutionists?

    To put it another way, it seems like IDists could say that there is too much evidence for an old earth to let this evidence (and other preservation of soft tissue) change them to a young earth view. It might be rationalized that soft tissue survives much longer than previously imagined. But, that position is identical to the evolutionists position. Further, it raises questions about why IDists who use these rationalizations are “[letting] the evidence take them where it will” whereas evolutionists who take this view are not – since both use the same rationalization.

    On the other hand, they could switch to a young-earth view (which might be characterized – rightly or wrongly – as “[letting] the evidence take them where it will”). That would bring them out of the ID-camp and into the YEC camp. (Although, I would argue that there is good evidence for an old earth, so the existence of ancient DNA is only one datapoint in the set of evidence indicating the age of the earth.)

    I’m not sure what other positions there are on this issue other than the agnostic position on the issue (i.e. there’s confusing data which we can’t rectify into a position of a young or old earth) – although, that also undermines the “[solid bias] towards an old earth”, since it implies that IDists shouldn’t really have a bias either way.

    While we might characterize IDists as “[letting] the evidence take them where it will”, there are only a handful of positions that can be taken on this issue, and the one that old-earth IDists accept is going to be the same one that evolutionists do.

    Re: Patrick
    I’m not saying that anyone’s a YEC, I’m just pointing out that old-earth IDists are pretty much in the same position as evolutionists.

  16. Sorry about the duck thing. I don’t know how I missed it being discussed here. I will have to look for the archive on that.

  17. Jerry: “Why did the bird have a completely different oxygen transport system?”

    Because you can’t fly with a dinosaur oxygen transport system?

  18. Jehu:

    Jerry: “Why did the bird have a completely different oxygen transport system?”

    Because you can’t fly with a dinosaur oxygen transport system?

    Hmmm, the bellows system seems quite adequate for the bat.

  19. Jehu:

    Jerry: “Why did the bird have a completely different oxygen transport system?”

    Jehu: Because you can’t fly with a dinosaur oxygen transport system?

    bFast: Hmmm, the bellows system seems quite adequate for the bat.

    Jehu: The bird lung appears to be designed to allow flight at higher elevation because it has more efficient oxygen uptake than a bellows lung. According to Michael Denton you can’t get from the bellows lung to the avian lung in small beneficial steps.

  20. 20
    John A. Davison

    Pneumatic bones are well known in certain dinosaurs and are not strictly avian inventions. Berg discusses this in Nomogenesis.

  21. Jerry:
    If the earth was only a few thousand years old wouldn’t you expect more soft tissue findings.

    Soft tissue can be removed in a very short time. It all depends on the environment.

    As for the age of the Earth and universe- Wouldn’t all dating methods depend on how the Earth and universe were formed? We know designing agencies can produce effects in a short duration that nature, acting freely, would have taken eons to produce. And if it is a question of where did the heat go (from rapid decay), I would say take a look at the core, as well as pre-atmospheric loss, with the rest being the nrg used for the rest of the design (on Earth).

    The whole issue with “time”, as in the age of the Earth, is because NDE requires as much as we will grant it and more. There are those, like Hugh Ross, who say 4.5 billion isn’t enough time. But in the end without vast eons NDE crumbles- that is why it (time) is contested by many in opposition.

    I call it the materialists’ trinity- Mother Nature, Father Time, & the blind watchmaker…

  22. New evaluation of Dr. Schweitzer’s research where she claims that the red blood cells might have been preserved due to iron.

    http://creation.mobi/dinosaur-soft-tissue

    The problem with this find is not only that it indicates that the dinosaur could not be millions of years old, but that the rock it is buried in must also be young!

    This is absolutely NOT an option for evolutionists because they need an old earth for their theory to even have a prayer of a chance of working. So, to preserve their theory which they “know” to be true, they are willing to throw out logic and common sense and believe unscientific things that simply cannot be true. Evolution demands much faith and also enables people to believe absolutely crazy things.

  23. New evaluation of Dr. Schweitzer’s research where she claims that the red blood cells might have been preserved due to iron.

    http://creation.mobi/dinosaur-soft-tissue

    The problem with this find is not only that it indicates that the dinosaur could not be millions of years old, but that the rock it is buried in must also be young!

    This is absolutely NOT an option for evolutionists because they need an old earth for their theory to even have a prayer of a chance of working. So, to preserve their theory which they “know” to be true, they are willing to throw out logic and common sense and believe unscientific things that simply cannot be true. Evolution demands much faith and also enables people to believe absolutely crazy things.

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