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World's oldest known DNA discovered
DNA is from bacteria that may have been descendants of first life forms
By Michael Reilly
updated 3:41 p.m. ET, Thurs., Dec . 17, 2009
It won't make Jurassic Park a reality, but scientists have discovered 419 million-year-old DNA intact inside ancient salt deposits.
The genetic material, the oldest ever found, belongs to salt-loving bacteria whose ancestors may have been among the first life forms on Earth.
Scientists have previously recovered similar genetic material from the Michigan Basin, the same region where the latest discovery was made. But the DNA was so similar to that of modern microbes that many scientists believed the samples had been contaminated.
Not so this time around.