Prometheus-by-Minute 58

In which I go full science nerd. Never go full science nerd.



The molecular clocks article I link to above explains how DNA can be used to determine when certain genetic changes occurred in history. Maybe it’s perfectly clear in the episode, but I just want to state that we can extrapolate time related information from DNA of beings from Earth. This is because there’s generally a lot more information and samples to work with. In Shaw’s case she has only the one Engineer that she tested, an alien creature humanity has never encountered before. Even if they have similar DNA to humans, making sense of what it all means without testing many more Engineers is not a matter of more sophisticated technology but a wider database. “Analyzing DNA from present-day and ancient genomes provides a complementary approach for dating evolutionary events. Because certain genetic changes occur at a steady rate per generation, they provide an estimate of the time elapsed. These changes accrue like the ticks on a stopwatch, providing a “molecular clock.” By comparing DNA sequences, geneticists can not only reconstruct relationships between different populations or species but also infer evolutionary history over deep timescales.”



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