8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About DNA

A close-up of a DNA strand under a microscope showing it’s double helix structure with side rails and rungs

DNA is present in almost all living beings and is the only molecule capable of reproducing itself. Often referred to as the building block of life, DNA carries important genetic information passed on through generations.

What Does DNA do?

DNA contains all the vital information required for the development, survival, and reproduction of an organism. DNA sequences are converted into messages which are used to produce proteins that carry out all the necessary functions.

 

What does DNA Look Like?

DNA is shaped like a twisted ladder, scientifically known as the double helix structure. It consists of side rails (sugar-phosphate) and rungs. The rung has a pair of chemical bases known as adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine (ATCG). Adenine is designed to pair with thymine and cytosine pairs with guanine.

 

Now that you have a fair idea about what DNA is made of and what it does, here are some interesting facts about the molecule that you probably didn’t know about:

Fact # 1:

DNA was discovered in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher. Scientists at that time didn’t understand that what DNA was and what it carried until later in 1943. Before this, they believed that genetic information was stored in proteins instead of DNA.

Fact #2:

DNA may store all information that makes up an organism; the molecule itself is built with four building blocks as listed above: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine.

Fact # 3:

DNA is never-ending. If you stretch DNA, it could extend from the sun and back six hundred times! If coiled, the DNA strands in each cell are six feet long.

Fact# 4:

Humans have 60% of the same genes as fruit flies. Two-thirds of these genes are linked to cancer.

A licensed professional studying different DNA under a microscope in a lab

 

Fact #5:

In humans, 99.9% of DNA is identical. The 0.1% difference results in varying skin color, hair, and even eye color. Some scientists believe that this small percentage can also lead to different diseases.

Fact # 6:

DNA is designed to replicate and duplicate, which is the reason we exist.

Fact #7:

DNA is very fragile. Damage from UV light or any other activities can result in transcription errors. Although there are several repair mechanisms, not all damage is repaired, which results in mutations. Some mutations can be harmless, some helpful, and others can lead to severe diseases like cancer.

Fact # 8:

If you typed at 60 wpm speed for 8 hours each day, it would take you approximately fifty years to type the human genome.

Find biological family roots with DavisDNA & Family Research. With over a decade of experience in the industry, we strive to create awareness about DNA testing and its genealogical uses. Based in Tampa Bay, Florida, we offer DNA analysis and forensic genealogy support nationwide. Other services include traditional genealogy & family research, genetic genealogy, and coaching. Get in touch with us to learn more.