Recent research on solenodon molecules reminds us the study of fossils is far from extinct

We can now extract DNA from pretty much anything. If US crime series are anything to go by (they are not), sequencing it only takes an afternoon at a desktop computer, and an expression of determination. DNA can not only help identify murderers, but tell us how animal groups are related to one another. In the last 50 years it has transformed scientific understanding of family trees and the evolution of life on earth.

With such technology at our fingertips, you may be left wondering: when it comes to understanding evolution, do we still need palaeontology? If I want to know if a hedgehog is more closely related to a shrew or a mole, I can just DNA test them, can’t I?

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