Fast away the old year passes, so time for everyone to compile their Top Tens. Here are a few lists, highlighting ones we followed or wished we had:
Scientific American: #5 Recovery of 400,000-year-old DNA:
For all the astonishing advances in ancient DNA research in recent years, scientists have maintained that they would never be able to sequence DNA from human fossils more than about 100,000 years old. But in December a team reported that it had managed to recover well-preserved DNA from a 400,000-year-old thighbone belonging to an extinct member of the human family.
See also Paleoanthrolopologist: Century-old theory of human evolution shown wrong by new 400k DNA
New Scientist (Category, Evolution and Life Sciences): The first story listed is The father of all men is 340,000 years old, and not 100,000 years old as previously believed.
Hundreds of thousands of people have now had their DNA tested. The data from these tests had shown that all men gained their Y chromosome from a common male ancestor. This genetic “Adam” lived between 60,000 and 140,000 years ago.
All men except Perry, that is. When Family Tree DNA’s technicians tried to place Perry on the Y-chromosome family tree, they just couldn’t. His Y chromosome was like no other so far analysed.
Of course, it’s always possible that this type of analysis is on the wrong track too. There are just so many surprises these days.
Nature News Readers’ Choice (most-read on Nature’s Web site this year):
Genome of largest viruses yet discovered hints at ‘fourth domain’ of life.
Later, after the researchers discovered a similar organism in a pond in Australia, they realized that both are viruses — the largest yet found. Each is around 1 micrometre long and 0.5 micrometres across, and their respective genomes top out at 1.9 million and 2.5 million bases — making the viruses larger than many bacteria and even some eukaryotic cells.
See also: Giant viruses: Aw, why not just dig up and haul that tree of life to a tree museum?
We’ll add more lists later. Meanwhile, what do readers think are the most important stories of the year?