Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Leo Wainwright said it is “an incredible vindication of nature”
Human DNA differs from sheep’s DNA when it comes to a large proportion of tissues, research shows.
Scientists were able to accurately identify a great-grandson of the founder of satnav firm TomTom from samples of a sheep’s stigmata, where parts of the knuckles have been bitten off.
This finding from the University of Edinburgh suggests that in some areas of the human body, DNA differs widely from other species.
This research could lead to better treatments for diseases like schizophrenia.
The technique is called face-matching, or cDNA recognition.
Scientists first recreated a sheep’s stigmata and used this genetic data to identify the sheep’s great-grandson.
The process involved mixing sheep DNA with human DNA derived from skin cells and then freezing it.
Face-matching works by first pitting the two strands of DNA against each other.
When the “featured” portion of the DNA complex (most likely the active element that caused the effects of the stigmata) comes up in between the sample’s other strands, it reveals a mark or a mutation.
Iwan Wainwright and his wife Jane are great-grandchildren of TomTom founder Jostein Friis.
Mr Wainwright, 53, was pleased to discover he is a descendant of the firm’s founder.
He said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the family and a huge breakthrough for science.
“It’s an incredible vindication of nature.”
The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Dr John Davies from the University of Edinburgh said: “There are some extremely common features in genes of human and other species.
“The findings demonstrate that in some populations these common genes, often known as humans, and other species like sheep, are linked.
“For example, in the case of rats this means the genetic blueprint used to make the iconic rat face is the same as in humans.”