Fossil genetics

matlock at biotek.arc.ab.ca matlock at biotek.arc.ab.ca
Sat May 7 18:21:38 EST 1994

     Thanks to all who responded to my query.  I think I have a better under-
standing now of the problem.  (I am a geologist, not educated in this complex
biology stuff).

    So the way I see it, even if we had all the genetic samples from a species
ancestor, there is no way you could say if it were still compatible with its
descendants unless you built the organism and then tested one gene at at time.
Is that about right?  Put another way, even if you could unravel and map the
DNA chains, you couldn't assign any function to them without extensive testing.
You would have to test them in the manner of Tony Long's Drosophila candidate
genes example.

    I hope you are forgiving of a geologists poor molecular biology
terminology.  For the record, I'd like to make clear that I never considered
the Jurassic Park fictions when I formulated these thoughts.  I was consider-
ing comparing, for example, the compatibility of homo habilis with homo

    As a final note, I understand that there is a project out there to map
all homo sapiens DNA.  To my knowledge, it is far from complete, but it is a
healthy, well-funded project.  Is there anyone working in a similar manner with
the fossil DNA of homo, or other genera?

--John Vezina

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