The tuatara is a reptile that lives (almost) forever and is related to humans.
the tuatara is old. 250 million years old. This is when this bizarre creature shared its last common ancestor with other reptiles before further evolving and diverging. It was once one of many species of Rhynocephalia that crawled across the antediluvian continent of Gondwana, but is now the only one left. Its genome links it not only to reptiles (which it most obviously resembles), but also to birds and yes, mammals like humans. The DNA of this living relic could also be the elixir of life.
“We found when the tuatara diverged with evolutionary dating, using the amount of genetic change that occurred between the tuatara and its closest relatives,” said Neil Gemmel, professor of anatomy at the University of ‘Otago in New Zealand, who recently conducted a study. Posted in Nature, said SYFY WIRE. We can calibrate the level of change over time against established genetic divisions across the tree of life that have been established from the fossil record and key geological events.
Amniotic vertebrates– which hatch from eggs or develop from an egg in the placenta – are believed to have first appeared 312 million years ago and then split into two groups. Synapsids included early mammals and now extinct reptiles with mammalian features. Sauropsids were once dinosaurs and other reptilian ancestors that have since died out and been replaced or evolved into extant birds or lizards, snakes and other reptiles. The tuatara has baffled scientists for so long because of synapsid and sauropsid features that could reveal what we never knew about amniote evolution.
The advantages of tuatara sauropsids and synapsids range from extreme night vision to a sense of smell that could identify potential mates as well as potential prey. It makes you wonder if this lizard was the result of an overpowered serum.
Tuatara has one of the largest vertebrate genomes ever created. There are many repeating elements that are unique to the tuatara, which became a phylum in its own right after diverging from snakes and lizards. It shares parts of this genome with turtles, chickens and even humans. Stranger still is that the types of repeating elements in tuatara DNA are closer to mammals than to birds or lizards. He developed specialized genes for immunity, thermal regulation, odor reception and metabolism.
You can probably see where this leads. Replicating such powerful MHC genes in humans could save lives in the future.
Understanding the extremely low metabolism of tuatara and the longevity of Methuselahs could eventually help us extend human lifespan. Tuatara can live for over a hundred years, making them the longest-lived reptiles next to some species of turtles, and there may be a connection to certain proteins in its system as well as the genes that cause them. protect from free radicals. The major histocompatibility (MHC) genes mean that its tissues are compatible with those of many different individuals with no immune response. Could it make at least a hundred people live one thing for humans?
“What we currently know is that tuatara have slightly more genes than other species that are known to protect against DNA damage and cellular aging from working in other systems,” said Gemmel. “So it seems possible that these genetics could contribute to tuatara’s longevity, although it would take quite a bit of work to test whether they are indeed protective against aging. If they are there, maybe there will be- Is there any prospect of developing them into drug supplements to protect against aspects of aging.”
Whatever the tuatara, it’s a window into the deep past that could unlock incredible advancements for the future.