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Science Bulletins: Extinct Cave Bear DNA Decoded

Scientists have traditionally looked to fossil evidence of extinct species to understand how Earth's plant and animal life evolved from ancestral forms. By comparing the body structures of species past and present, they can construct family trees that represent change over time. In recent decades, DNA analysis has emerged as another powerful tool to decipher evolutionary relationships. So far, fragments of DNA from about 50 extinct species have been extracted from body parts preserved in permafrost, ancient bones preserved in caves, and other remains. Once the units of DNA in the fragments are sequenced and arranged in their original order, scientists can compare the genetic blueprints of extinct species to those alive today to calculate the degree of relatedness between them and learn when key evolutionary changes arose.
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