Scientists extract DNA of extinct giant bird from fossil eggs

March 10th, 2010 - 3:39 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 10 (ANI): Experts have successfully managed to extract DNA from a 19,000-year-old emu eggshell.

Charlotte Oskam and Michael Bunce, Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, were able to isolate mitochondrial DNA from the eggshells of several extinct megafauna, including the giant moa of New Zealand and a 19,000-year-old emu from Australia.

The researchers’ breakthrough also included recovery of DNA from the egg of the elephant bird of Madagascar, New Scientist reported.

The findings will help understand better how ancient bird and reptilian species lived and died, Bunce explained.

Bunce further elaborated how eggshell was the best substance for radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis, which gives information about the environment in which the egg was laid.

Jaime Gongora, an expert in avian genetics, the University of Sydney, said: “It’s a breakthrough. Extracting even a little more DNA is really important with ancient samples.”

Matt Phillips at Australian National University, Canberra, nodded: “Better access to the genetic information of the nuclear genome promises far richer reconstructions of evolutionary history than is currently possible.”

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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