Interesting Facts About DNA
Everything that has ever lived on our planet contains a microscopic set of instructions on how it is constructed and self-replicated – DNA.
Many things about us, including whether we are short or tall, the color of our hair, skin, eyes —- even an aptitude to be really good at playing the tuba — come from genetic traits that are passed along to us through the information coded in our DNA. More importantly, our DNA is the reason we are born as humans.
Now that we know what it is and what it does, let’s learn more about it with some fun, interesting facts about DNA.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is a molecule made up of a combination of nitrogen bases, phosphate, and sugar molecules arranged in unique ways that serve as a code. This code contains all the information needed to define the appearance and function of every living organism.
When scientists discovered the complete DNA sequence, it opened the door to many new amazing medical advances.
Inside the nucleus of human cells, DNA is packaged into pairs of structures called chromosomes. There are 23 pairs, so there’s a total of 46 chromosomes.
A single strand of DNA is about 2-3 meters long, but is so thin that it can be coiled into chromosomes, inside the nucleus of cells.
DNA is in the shape of a long ladder that is twisted around and around for the entire length. This shape is referred to as a “double helix.”
The two outer strands in DNA are connected by a hydrogen bond, which is referred to as an “H-bond.”
The individual parts that DNA is made of are often called its “building blocks.” These building blocks are called nucleotides.
The four bases of DNA are cytosine, thymine, guanine, and adenine. Each step of the DNA “ladder” contains two of these four nucleotides.
They are arranged in unique sequences that create the complex code.
Scientists have studied the coded sequences of these amino acid residues in proteins using the letters C, T, G, and A, which stand for the four bases.
Some viruses are able to inject some of their DNA into their host’s DNA. Many humans carry the entire DNA profile of a virus within their own genes.
Every other human being that has ever existed, no matter how different they seem, has 99.9% of the same DNA as you.
We have 98.4% of the same DNA as chimpanzees
A garden cabbage has 50% of the same DNA as a human.
So does a banana. Well, technically the banana plant does, which is the living organism.
70% of our DNA is shared with slugs.
60% of our DNA is shared with fruit flies.
85% of our DNA is shared with a mouse.
Identical twins share 100% of the same DNA. It is only through experiences and environmental conditions that give them physical differences.
Roughly 8% of the human genome has junk DNA, which is the term for the residual sequences from viruses that infected our ancestors.
The information coded in DNA is about the same amount as 700 terabytes worth of data.
Red blood cells are the only cells in the body that do not contain DNA.
The justice system first used DNA as evidence to track down a criminal in 1985.
DNA is able to replicate itself during the every-day process of cell division. Scientists have found a way to use this ability to clone entire living organisms.
Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned by scientists, in the 1990’s. But the first animal to ever be cloned was a tadpole in the 1950’s.
Some cancers are caused by mutations in DNA that can be passed along through generations, or by damage to DNA, such as over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
If all the DNA in your body were unraveled and stretched out end to end, it would reach to the sun and back.
There are over 100 trillion cells in the human body that contain our DNA.
DNA was first discovered by biochemist Friedrich Miescher in 1869. In the 1940s, Oswald Avery discovered that DNA contains the humans genetic blueprint. But it was because of the work of Rosalind Franklin, an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, that we now understand the double-helix molecular structures of DNA.
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