Mapping genes of a horse from 700,000 years ago

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Associated Press

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM

HELSINKI (AP) — From a tiny fossil bone found in the frozen Yukon, scientists have deciphered the genetic code of an ancient horse about 700,000 years old.

That's nearly 10 times older than any other animal that has had its genome mapped.

Scientists used new techniques and computing to map DNA from a 5-inch fossil fragment. The research provides a better insight into the evolution of one of the most studied mammals. The ancient horse was probably about the size of current Arabian horses.

The Danish researchers say the new techniques could make it possible to map the genetic blueprints of all sorts of ancient animals from early human ancestors to mastodons to mammoths to bison.

The work was published Wednesday in the journal Nature and discussed at a science conference in Helsinki.

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