Fossil Protein Breakthrough Will Probe Evolution

November 12, 2002 | Source: New Scientist

The first complete sequencing of protein from a fossil bone suggests that proteins can survive for millions of years – long enough to probe the evolution of many extinct species, including the ancestors of modern humans. Pieces of DNA large enough to sequence using sensitive amplification techniques can survive for 100,000 years in permafrost. But osteocalcin, a structural protein that bonds directly to the minerals of bone, can survive for more than 100 million years at 0 degrees C, and for some 10 million years at 10 degrees C.