Saturday, July 26, 2008

Living History

It's sad how there are so many scientific announcements being made these days that everyone feels the need to use overblown, dramatic language to make an otherwise neat observation sound like a summer blockbuster.

Rockefeller University announced that they have found records of interactions between humans and viruses dating back millions of years.

Mind you, I completely disapprove of their methods. They "brought an ancient retrovirus back to life" to see how the body fights it off, which is a terrible idea. The last thing we need is to bring back ancient epidemics that we've already tried to eradicate, but whatever.

The point is that scientists studied the interaction between the virus and present-day humans, and saw that humans fought the virus by mutating it. Then they found a modern-day virus that corresponded to what the ancient virus became after the mutation. So, scientists have now found evidence that our DNA was mutated by viruses, and there are viruses out there that have been mutated by us.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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