Ancient Virus DNA Thrives Inside Us

BdnaYou may still have that dinosaur virus your ancestors caught millions of years ago. David Shukman explains for BBC News:

Traces of ancient viruses which infected our ancestors millions of years ago are more widespread in us than previously thought.

A study shows how extensively viruses from as far back as the dinosaur era still thrive in our genetic material.

It sheds light on the origins of a big proportion of our genetic material, much of which is still not understood.

The scientists investigated the genomes of 38 mammals including humans, mice, rats, elephants and dolphins.

The research was carried out at Oxford University, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Centre in New York and the Rega Institute in Belgium.

It is reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the viruses was found to have invaded the genome of a common ancestor around 100 million years ago with its remnants discovered in almost every mammal in the study.

Another infected an early primate with the result that it was found in apes, humans and other primates as well…

[continues at BBC News]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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4 Comments on "Ancient Virus DNA Thrives Inside Us"

  1. Much against common belief, not all viruses are of the KILL THE HOST! KILL THE HOST!  variety. I’m sure there are remnants of countless viruses that many of us have, some of which might even contribute to some variety in the species.

    Hell, maybe evolution is commonly pushed along by them by a sortof “quarantine” syndrome that causes a split in breeding habits. Who knows.

  2. Eric_D_Read | Apr 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    I always suspected Agent Smith was right about his analysis of humans.

  3. JoiquimCouteau | Apr 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

    What they mean by ‘viral DNA’ is fragments of DNA whose transcription products can transpose them to elsewhere in the genome. This was first discovered in the early 1980s by the same researchers who had spent the previous decade searching for a ‘cancer virus’, and they interpreted it as having discovered a new type of virus. 

    To anyone who’s not schizophrenic or getting paid to say otherwise, this should indicate that ‘viruses’ are predominantly products of abnormal expression of our own DNA. 
    In AIDS ‘research’, however, the interpretation is that the evil foreign viral invaders have somehow taken over the majority of our genome.

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