Our DNA was a fascinating discovery! Scientists are still working every single day on knowing more about “mutations” and mechanisms that could possibly confirm and provide access to DNA editing.
April 25 is celebrated as National DNA Day! The day is dedicated to the brilliant Nature publication in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published their work on the structure of DNA.
While the finding was huge and became the primary subject for several fields, we are celebrating this day in a slightly different way! While there is immense research going on, wouldn’t it be fun to step away from the hard core science for a while? A step into the wild? There is so much more to our DNA than just our genetic make up. Sit back, relax and let’s get you started with some light but mind boggling facts about the heavenly helix!
DID YOU KNOW…
- A parent and child share 99.5% of the same DNA! Humans and cabbage share about 40-50% common DNA, while 98% of your DNA is common with a chimpanzee!
- Did you know that we have 100 trillion cells in our body, and if unwound, the DNA in each cell measures 6 feet in length. If all your DNA was laid out end to end, it would reach from the Earth to the Sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).
- The human genome contains 3 billion base pairs of DNA : Each cell has 3 billion base pairs. If those letters were typed out, it would be enough to fill over 200 phone books.
- If you could type 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, it would take approximately 50 years to type the human genome!!! Whoaaa!
- Your partner can smell your DNA! Studies of kissing have shown that women are more attracted to the scent of a man with a different genetic code than her own. A difference in DNA increases the chance for healthy children. So, what we perceive as chemistry could in fact be DNA-ttraction! Haha! How creepy is that?!
- Research in Cambridge University provides evidence that humans and mud worms share DNA! We have relative in the animal kingdom! Now you know what “bugs” you the most!
- You will be astonished to know that 1 single gram of DNA is capable of holding 700 terabytes of data! If we wanted to store all digital information in this world, all we needed would be a couple grams of DNA! No fancy hard drives please!
AND THAT’S NOT ALL, THERE’S MORE…
- DNA stores all information that makes up any organism. But the whole storage space is made of just four building blocks, – cytosine (C), thymine (T), guanine (G) and adenine (A). Simple yet elegant!
- Genes make up only ~3 percent of your DNA! The other 97 percent was assumed to be “junk” DNA. However, recently scientists confirmed that this noncoding region also controls the activity of our genes.
- Did you know that one can sequence the DNA of a fetus with blood and spit? Combine the blood from the mother and saliva from the father and whoaa! Scientists have recently constructed the DNA of an unborn child! That sample alone could help detect genetic diseases in their offspring — with no invasive procedures required!
- Your genome contains ancient viruses! YES, history lives in you. Eight percent of our genome is made up of retrovirus DNA. These are viruses that have been passed down since time immemorial, have undergone mutation and rendered powerless now. But some retroviruses can take on new life, such as in people with HIV and cancer. When scientists isolated the DNA of both HIV patients and healthy people, they found the virus K111, in active and inactive forms. They also found it in chimpanzee DNA, so the virus would have infected our ancestors before humans split off over 6 million years ago.
- DNA has been traced back over 300,000 years! In 2013, scientists reported that they had found an ancient Y chromosome in an African-American man in South Carolina. It had been passed down intact for 338,000 years, predating the earliest known fossils known to human civilization. The chromosome carried a mutation similar to people of the Mbo tribe in Cameroon. Does that mean that a member of the Mbo tribe married an African human? Your guess is as good as ours?
- 20 percent of Neanderthal DNA lives on in humans! People living outside of Africa today have genomes composed of 1-4 percent of Neanderthal DNA. It’s specifically found in the genes that make keratin, which affects our hair and skin. The Neanderthal skin color gene is still found in 70 percent of Europeans. Scientists have even sequenced the DNA of a Neanderthal dead for 5,300 years and found he has living relatives!!!
How ODD is the fact below???
The human penis was once full of or covered with prickles. That’s scary! Luckily that DNA code which made the penis spiny is lost. Around 700,000 years ago Neanderthals and modern humans got separated from a common ancestor and that is when the modern humans actually lost that DNA code! Scientists have found out that a total of 510 DNA codes have been lost throughout the process of human evolution.
DNA changes historical facts – SERIOUSLY?
We have always known that Columbus was the first person to reach the New World (USA)? DNA proved that wrong! This was apparently achieved by Polynesians sometime in the 13th century as suggested by DNA evidence. Antarctica was also visited by Polynesians around the year 650 and they describe the place as “a place of bitter cold where rock-like structures rose from a solid sea“….
History cannot be recreated with genetic engineering…not yet anyway;)
According to research, DNA has a half-life of 521 years. This means that the oldest animal or organism that can be cloned back to life cannot be older than 2 million years. Thus, replicating dinosaurs is just not possible because they went extinct 65 million years ago. Our only option is to watch Jurassic Park and relive the majestic creatures….
Cool Space related DNA facts…
A UNIQUE memory device revolves around planet earth known as the ‘Immortal Drive’. The device is located inside the International Space Station and contains digitized DNA sequence of Lance Armstrong, Stephen Colbert, Stephen Hawking and others. It is actually an attempt to preserve human race in the event of a global catastrophe!!! How well prepared is that….?
Did you know that our planet, did not have phosphates. Shiny balls of fire, better known as meteors were responsible for bringing reduced phosphorus to the earth, which then oxidized to form phosphates and thereby creating the mechanism that generates RNA and DNA. These outer space objects did contribute in some way!
A unique biological and self preservation fact …
DNA is capable of replicating or duplicating itself – It is capable of making an identical copy of itself and this is essential during cell division.
Mapmygenome and DNA day : Each individual’s genetic makeup is unique. You are different because of that 0.1% DNA that sets you apart! As a Personalised genomics company, we are well aware of this and thus help you #knowyourself !
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Note: All the information in this article has been collected from aggregator websites, popular forums and online blog content, available in public knowledge databases.
About the Author
Dr. Pallavi Jain is part of the Scientific Team at Mapmygenome. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry with Genetics and a PhD in Molecular Medicine (UK). She recently completed an intensive course in IVF from Origio, Mumbai. She enjoys swimming and reading.