DNA Evidence For Evolution: Endogenous Retroviruses

An Endogenous Retrovirus is a genetic scar left by certain types of virus infections. We can use Endogenous Retroviruses to build evolutionary trees.


Here we explore the amazing discovery of Endogenous Retroviruses (ERVs) in our own DNA. An Endogenous Retrovirus is a genetic remnant of antient virus infection suffered by an ancestor. It turns out that many of our Endogenous Retroviruses are shared by chimpanzees. This is because we share a common ancestor with them.

Explore Further

Scientific papers shown in the animation by topic:

Placental Endogenous Retrovirus research

Revival of Extinct Endogenous Retrovirus in Human DNA

Chimpanzee & human DNA comparisons

Studies on how likely it is for an Endogenous Retrovirus to insert itself in same location of different hosts

Human Endogenous Retrovirus – W: Exact insertion locations in humans and other apes

Notes on the math used in this animation:

Estimation of possible Endogenous Retrovirus insertion sites in the human Genome