As time goes by, scientists wish to solve the mysteries of our past relatives, as well as the ancestors to many species that exist today. To handle this task, scientists need to capitalize on genome analysis, which gives clues as to which genetic and phenotypic traits have been lost or gained. For this process, scientists need to analyze the genome of the species they would like to compare to an extinct species. Genome comparison between two extinct species is also prevalent in the world today because it can reveal similarities and the evolutionary steps that were taken between the two species.
Recently, as stated in the Science magazine article “Japanese wolves may be rare remnant of Ice Age Wolves”, graduate student Jonas Niemann found that a recently extinct species, the Honshu wolf, closely resembled wolves from the ice age. The ice age wolves, who resided in Siberia, lived 35,000 years earlier and were deemed extinct 20,000 years ago. Intriguingly, the Honshu wolf went extinct in 1905 due to farmers shooting and poisoning them for spreading rabies (which the wolves got from domestic dogs). The ancestor of the domestic dogs died ultimately by the paws of domestic dogs.
The relation between the Honshu wolf and the ice age Siberian wolf will help piece together the evolution of wolves and dogs, and maybe even tell scientists more about other extinct species that interacted with the deceased wolves. This finding helps cement genomic testing as a reliable source, as well helping scientists get one step closer in knowing how mammalian species, as well as the rest of the organisms on Earth, have evolved.
Genome analysis I believe is an important step in understanding science and history more. I find it fascinating that they found a connection between a species that was extinct 20,000 years ago and a species that went extinct a little over a hundred years ago! This definitely does show that genomic testing is reliable and I hope we hear more about it!ReplyDelete
- Danielle Bermingham
I am hoping that this discovery will encourage scientists to test more extinct species and compare their genomes. With enough research and time, I am sure that scientist will have an (almost) complete record of evolution in most, if not all, living animals today.Delete
I think that this topic is so interesting! I think that the type of genome analysis can get especially challenging when only fragments of extinct species DNA are found! Do you if there have been cases where fragments of DNA have led scientists to find common ancestors? Also do you know of any cases where most people consider two species closely related but their DNA shows differently?ReplyDelete
Posted by: Katarzyna Mosio
I believe that the ice wolf case might have been using a 'fragment' (not complete) genome, but I am not sure. The only example I can think of about people thinking two species are closely related are the elephant shrew and the desert rat; both have similar morophologies, but DNA shows that desert rats are Rodentia while elephant shrews are Macroscelidae; these are two completely different orders in the class Mammalia.Delete
How did the scientists obtain DNA from Ice Age wolves? How do you get DNA from extinct species in general? What do these kinds of comparisons tell us about how current dogs evolved?ReplyDelete
Posted by Chandler Kupris
From my understanding, scientists must have fossil records, as well as physical bones, from the ice wolves. They must have a special technique to extract the DNA from the bone. While the Honshu wolf is also extinct, there are still pellets in museums in Japan; scientists were probably able to use the same DNA extraction as was done on the ice wolf, but they might have also been able to use another part of the Honshu wolf for a closer analysis of its genome. Honshu wolves are related to dogs, and since they are related to the long extinct ice wolves, it draws a family tree (with a few species missing as of now) that show the ancestry of dogs.Delete
past comment was by Rachel KlettDelete
It is truly incredible what is possible with the technology we have available to us in the world today. The ability to truly analyze an organisms DNA down to the amino acid sequence is remarkable. In this case, how did the scientist think to compare this specific species genome with that a wolf that went extinct 20,000 years ago? How did we obtain the DNA of an animal that lived so long ago? What specific genes tell us that they are linked ancestrally?ReplyDelete
Posted by Jamie Downer
This was very interesting to read about. I found it fascinating on how technology has evolved and it is possible to compare two samples of DNAs from two different species that are extinct. It is questionable though on how legitimate is the 20000 year old DNA and can it really be used?ReplyDelete
Though we have lost a lot of animals with time, we still have a lot of animals that have survived for a very long time. For example, organisms like jelly fishes and horseshoe crabs have been around for over 500 million years. Studying the genetic makeup of organisms like these help evolutionary biologists figure out more and more about life on earth. However, it is sad to note the number of species that have gone and are going extinct. I hope that animal conservation becomes a bigger agenda for every government around the world to protect the earth in its pristine form.ReplyDelete
Posted by Veshal Venkat