The Virus That Caused a 15-Million-Year Pandemic Explained

Did you know that, in terms of DNA, you are more virus than genes?

Imagine a pandemic that could dwarf the COVID-19 pandemic which has profoundly affected our lives for these endless past months. In this video by PBS Eons, you'll be learning about a new virus that emerged and infected a mammal around 33 million years ago. This was the beginning of a viral outbreak that would leave its mark in the genomes of almost every mammal around today, and this huge, ancient pandemic that spanned the globe would last more than 15 million years

Scientists know about this particular virus because our DNA holds the secrets of this ancient pandemic. Discovered by a team of biologists in 2001, this was a "molecular fossil entombed in our own genome," and as PBS Eons explains this wasn't the virus itself, but only a piece of its genetic material.

If you're curious about what this virus was, how it ended up in our genome, and whether it caused any diseases, you might want to watch the video for that — but beware, we don't know all the answers yet since many of them are hiding in our DNA, waiting to be discovered. Enjoy!

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