Tag Archives: dodo

The Revolutionary Headache of Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA can teach us a great deal about prehistoric life. So why is it so troublesome? (Image Credit: Flying Puffin, CC BY-SA 2.0)

When we’ve talked about type specimens on Ecology for the Masses, we‘ve spent a lot of time emphasising how important it is to preserve them. Bottom line is, if they get destroyed, there are a lot of really important biological questions that become very difficult to answer.

Thankfully, landmark leaps in technology have made it  possible to extract DNA from those specimens and store them in a public repository (e.g. the NCBI nucleotide database). So then even if a specimen is lost, the DNA would still be there and could be compared to that of other specimens to figure out if it’s the same species. Sounds like a clever and straightforward thing to do, but as always, it’s more complicated in reality.

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