As you know, parasites coexisted with us andother representatives of the animal world throughout our entire life cycle almost from the moment of the birth of life. Moreover, despite the fact that the parasites are quite well adapted to survive both inside and outside the living organism, not so much is known about the ancient parasites. However, recently a group of researchers found parasite DNA, about 17,000 years old (our news Telegram channel, though younger, is no less interesting to study its contents). And this can tell a lot about the ancient representatives of the entire animal world.
Where and how did they find the DNA of the parasite?
Group of paleontologists from the Scientific and Technologicalcenter in Mar del Plata during the study of caves in the central part of Argentina inside one of them in the sedimentary layer of rock found feces belonged to a large species of wild cats, namely cougars. However, during the DNA analysis of the obtained sample, scientists found something else. The genetic material of the parasite, which, apparently, coexisted with the cougar.
This is the oldest recorded find in the world,concerning parasites, - scientists say in an interview with the editorial board of the journal Parasitology. New results are important for the biogeographic history of the spread of parasites and for the entire history of species in this region. The study shows that if coprolite (fossilized remains of feces) is stored in the right environment, then we are very likely to detect eggs and DNA of parasites that are many thousands of years old. This will make it easier to plot how different types of parasites develop over time.
As for the parasite itself, it refers toToxascaris leonina, a roundworm of the toxacar genus that continues to parasitize animals to this day. In fact, the fact that the DNA of the parasite was found in almost undamaged form is a great success, since for the most part the genetic material is very much destroyed over time. Moreover, DNA of putrefactive bacteria that destroy living flesh is “mixed” with the ancient DNA of living organisms. Therefore, often scientists have to resort to methods of purification and reconstruction of ancient DNA.
In this case, paleontologists very muchlucky, because of the cool temperature and high salt concentration inside the rocky shelter, there was a quick drying out and a kind of “conservation” of the genetic material. Thus, based on the data obtained, it will be possible to draw a conclusion about the evolution of ancient parasites by comparing the DNA of ancient Toxascaris leonina with modern representatives of the species.
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Moreover, sufficient accumulated nowthe amount of "unidentified" ancient parasite genetic material found in this and surrounding regions. And by comparing the nucleotide sequence, it will be possible to draw conclusions about the migration of these parasites (and hence their carriers) into prehistoric times. And this can tell a lot about the formation of flora and fauna of the entire South American continent.