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RNA — the short-lived transcripts of genes — from the “Tumat puppy”, a wolf of the Pleistocene era has been isolated, and its sequence analyzed in a new study by Oliver Smith of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues publishing on July 30 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. The results establish the possibility of examining a range of RNA transcripts from ancient organisms, a possibility previously thought to be extremely unlikely because of the short lifespan of RNA. DNA, which encodes the “hard copy” of genes, is known to survive for thousands of years under favourable conditions. But RNA…

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