Deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA, is nothing but a molecule encoding genetic information that governs a living organism’s development and functioning.
Putting it in simpler language, DNA stores information about the genetic makeup of an organism. This genetic makeup is passed on from one generation to another. This is quite hardcore science and hence, we will not go into details.
We will rather keep it simple and discuss 70 interesting DNA facts that will make you says – “whoa, really?” So, let us begin!
DNA Facts: 1-5
1. DNA stores all information that makes up any organism. That’s quite a lot of information but what’s interesting about DNA is that it is made of just four building blocks, which are – cytosine (C), thymine (T), guanine (G) and adenine (A).
2. There were some ancient viruses that used to infect humans but today, 8% of human DNA is actually made of those ancient viruses!
3. Human DNA is 94% to 98% identical to the DNA of chimpanzees. That’s quite understandable but what’s shocking is that human DNA is 50% identical to the DNA of bananas! You read it correctly! We said BANANAS!
4. Here is another shocker – cabbages and humans share about 40-50% of identical DNA. Yeah – cabbages – those that we eat! You know… those green leafy cabbages!
5. You know what? 1 single gram of DNA is capable of holding an amazing 700 terabytes of data!
DNA Facts: 6-10
6. If we want to store all digital information in this world, all we need is 2 grams of DNA.
7. Human penis once used to be spiny. That’s scary! Luckily that DNA code which made the penis spiny is lost. Around 700,000 years ago Neanderthals and modern humans got separate from a common ancestor and that is when the modern humans actually lost that DNA code. Good for us! Imagine how a woman would feel while performing fellatio of even penetrative sex!
8. Scientists have found out that a total of 510 DNA codes have been lost throughout the process of human evolution.
10. If someone manages to unwind all DNA molecules in a human body and place them end to end, the total length that can be covered is 10 billion miles! That’s the distance covered in a trip from Earth to Pluto and back to Earth.
DNA Facts: 11-15
11. The center of our galaxy Milky Way contains molecular precursors of DNA.
12. The DNA in every cell of human body is damaged 1,000 to 1 million times every single day. Luckily our body has an elaborate system of repairing those damaged DNAs constantly. When the repairing mechanism fails events like cellular death or cancer formation takes place.
13. Do you really think Columbus was the first person to reach the New World (America)? You are wrong! This was achieved by Polynesians sometime in 13th century. This is actually suggested by DNA evidence. There are even stories that Antarctica was first visited by Polynesians around the year 650 and they describe the place as “a place of bitter cold where rock-like structures rose from a solid sea“.
14. It will take 50 years to type the entire human genome if someone types at a speed of 60 wpm (words per minute) and works 8 hours a day!
15. Mud worms, according to scientists, are the closest genetic relatives we have from the world of invertebrates. Human DNA is more similar to that of mud worms than other invertebrates such as cockroaches or octopus.
DNA Facts: 16-20
16. 99.9% of DNA is identical in all humans on this Earth. The remaining 0.1% is what helps us to differentiate between DNA sequences allowing us to tell which DNA belongs to whom.
17. DNA was first discovered in year 1869 by a man named Friedrich Miescher.
18. It was only in 1943 that scientists became aware of the fact that genetic information is stored in DNA. Prior to that, it was believed that genetic information was stored in proteins.
19. DNA damaged can be caused by UV light of Sun. Damage may also be caused due to transcription error. There are various other factors that can cause DNA damage. Our body is equipped with a mechanism that can reverse these damages but not all damages can be repaired always. Unrepaired damages are nothing but mutation. This means that we almost always carry mutations, most of which are bad but some may be good.
20. According to researches, DNA has a half-life of 521 years. This simply means that the oldest animal or organism that can be cloned back to life cannot be older than 2 million years. Thus, replicating dinosaurs is literally impossible because they went extinct 65 million years ago.
DNA Facts: 21-25
21. If someone undergoes bone marrow transplant, the recipient may or may not have DNA of the donor. In most cases the recipient will not have foreign DNA.
22. Orbiting our Earth is a memory device that is known as ‘Immortal Drive’. The device is actually inside the International Space Station and it contains digitalized DNA sequence of Lance Armstrong, Stephen Colbert, Stephen Hawking and others. It is actually an attempt to preserve human race in event of a global catastrophe.
23. Earth did not have phosphates. Meteors were responsible for bringing reduced phosphorus to earth which then oxidized to form phosphates and thereby creating the mechanism that generates RNA and DNA.
24. DNA is capable of replicating or duplicating itself, i.e., it is capable of making an identical copy of itself and this is essential during cell division.
25. In point 14 we mentioned genome. A genome is nothing but the entire DNA sequence of an organism. One genome is estimated to have 3,000,000,000 DNA bases. Now a ‘base’ is nothing but a unit of DNA. To simplify even further, a base is a building block of DNA and there are 4 such building blocks as mentioned in the first point. These bases in turn pair up together to form genetic codes.
DNA Facts: 26-30
26. We talked about the presence of phosphate groups in DNA earlier. Did you know that the DNA carries a negative charge because of the phosphate group?
27. Friedrich Miescher was the one who discovered DNA. He was the one who isolated DNA for the first time.
28. He discovered the DNA in pus the found on waste surgical bandage. He named DNA as nuclein as it resided in the cell nucleus.
29. DNA can be termed as the blueprint of our life. It is also the genetic hereditary unit which is responsible for carrying physical and physiological characteristics from one generation to the other.
30. Even though science has advanced so much, origins of DNA is still a question which remains unsolved.
Fascinating DNA Facts: 31-35
31. There are two theories which explain the origin of DNA. The first one – scientists assume that life form was carried on meteorites and when these meteorites hit the planet, these life forms started to adapt and live on earth.
32. The other one – some scientists assume that the earlier environment of the earth had certain favorable conditions which led to the rise of “primordial soup”. This soup contained building blocks which merged with each other and formed the first life form.
33. DNA has a double helix structure. It looks more or less like twisted ladder. The sides of the ladder are composed of deoxyribose sugars which get linked by phosphodiester bonds. The steps are made of nucleotide base pairs (adenosine-thymine and cytosine-guanine).
34. The strands of the double helix are around 20 to 26 Å wide. The nucleotide unit is 3.3 Å wide.
35. Because of the spiral twisting of the two strands of the DNA, two types of grooves are formed – major groove situated at 22 Å away from the first nucleotide and a minor groove which is 12 Å away.
DNA Facts: 36-40
36. The nucleotide bases’ ratio remains constant for a species. It varies from species to species but for a particular species, it always remains constant. This ratio is helpful in identifying the source of the DNA.
37. Separating two strands of DNA by heating (above 90 degrees Celsius) is called denaturation. A denatured DNA and a normal DNA has different absorption wavelengths.
38. Mitochondria have their own DNA. Hence it replicates itself. It (DNA of mitochondria) can be used to determine maternal ancestry.
39. The only other cell organelle who is self-replicating is the chloroplast.
40. Genome of siblings are 98% same and it is 100% same in the case of twins.
DNA Facts: 41-45
41. Did you know, once German police had to let go off a convict in a jewel theft case? The trial didn’t happen because the convict had a twin and both denied culpability. Poor police had no other option but to leave them free.
42. Human genome is around 3,000,000,000 letters long (3 billion letters). It is made up of 30,000 genes.
43. A child gets 50% of his/her total genome from one of the parents and the rest 50% from the other parent. 95% of the genome is similar in children and their parents.
44. Human Genome Project was completed in the year 2003. It successfully achieved its goal of decoding entire sequence of the human genome.
45. Did you know that Human Genome Project costed US 2.7 billion dollars? It was launched in the year 1990.
DNA Facts: 46-50
46. A group of scientists incorporated “It’s a small world after all” song into a bacterium’s genome. It was aimed at creating a method to pass on information or messages to the future life forms who are intelligent.
47. Bdelloid rotifers, an ancient aquatic animal (at least 25 million years old and still existent), has the ability to absorb foreign DNA into its own and have the characteristics present in the new DNA.
48. It has developed the ability to survive desiccation (the process of extreme dryness) for over 9 years!
49. Hornsleth Deep Storage Project’s goal is to preserve a structure containing genetic sample of animals, plans, and humans in Mariana Trench (located in Pacific Ocean) so that any endangered species can be brought back to life in the future.
DNA Facts: 51-55
51. It would take 52 years for a person to recite all bases of human genome without any break!
52. While our DNA is 94 to 98% similar to that of chimpanzees, our DNA is just 1 to 4% similar to the Neanderthals. Similarity is more to a mouse (92%), a fruit fly (51%), and bacteria (18%). That’s weird!
53. The complete human genome sequence was issued on 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick.
54. First cloned organism in the world is Dolly, a sheep. She was cloned by inserting a DNA of a female sheep into the egg of another female sheep.
55. Thanks to the use of nuclear weapons in World War II, traces of radioactive carbon is found in the DNA of people born after 1955.
DNA Facts: 56-60
56. DNA analysis is done to know the authenticity of foods like wine, caviar etc.
57. It was only in 1943 that scientists came to know the function of DNA as genetic material.
58. Earlier scientists held the notion that proteins were the genetic material.
59. As far as we know, only 2% of the DNA sequences codes for proteins and the rest 98% is considered as junk DNA.
60. But we never know just like for vestigial organs, some scientists may claim or find some use of the DNA sequences that we now term as “junk”. Just saying!
DNA Facts: 61-65
61. Stripes on tigers, spots on leopards are permanent, but they differ from individual to individual. However, cheetahs are extremely similar to each other because there is almost no difference in their DNA.
62. Cheetahs were nearly wiped out around 10,000 years ago during an ice age which forced them to inbred. This is the reason why very few cheetahs are healthy and fit.
63. Did you know that DNA is the largest macromolecule in a cell?
64. Many of us might not know but there are 5 different types of DNA – A-DNA, B-DNA, C-DNA, D-DNA, and Z-DNA.
65. B-DNA is the most common DNA type. Z-DNA is the one and only left-handed DNA type which refers to the direction of the coiling of the DNA strands.
DNA Facts: 66-70
66. If an organism has two sets of genes, the organism is called a chimera. It occurs when many fertilized eggs fuse during embryogenesis or during transplant of any organ or bone marrow.
67. DNA can be modified. Scientists modified the genetic material and created genetically modified plants and microorganisms.
68. There is something called AncestryDNA test. If you take this test, you can know a lot about your ancestry like in which part of the world your ancestors lived, why and where did they migrate later, the reason behind their bonding, etc. Isn’t that cool?
69. People except for Africans are part Neanderthals. If you don’t believe us then you can have a DNA test and know for yourself how much Neanderthal are you, your ancestral lineage and potential health issues you may face.
70. Cloning a human is scientifically possible, but because of ethical concerns and no commercial funding, the experiment of cloning a human is stalled.