10 Interesting DNA Facts

How Much Do You Know About DNA?

DNA helix
DNA codes the genetic information of an organism. KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid codes for your genetic make-up. There are lots of facts about DNA, but here are 10 that are particularly interesting, important, or fun.

Key Takeaways: DNA Facts

  • DNA is the acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid.
  • DNA and RNA are the two types of nucleic acids the code for genetic information.
  • DNA is a double-helix molecule built from four nucleotides: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C).
  1. Even though it codes for all the information that makes up an organism, DNA is built using only four building blocks, the nucleotides adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine.
  2. Every human being shares 99% of their DNA with every other human.
  3. If you put all the DNA molecules in your body end to end, the DNA would reach from the Earth to the Sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).
  4. A parent and child share 99.5% of the same DNA.
  5. You have 98% of your DNA in common with a chimpanzee.
  6. If you could type 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, it would take approximately 50 years to type the human genome.
  7. DNA is a fragile molecule. About a thousand times a day, something happens to it to cause errors. This could include errors during transcription, damage from ultraviolet light, or any of a host of other activities. There are many repair mechanisms, but some damage isn't repaired. This means you carry mutations! Some of the mutations cause no harm, a few are helpful, while others can cause diseases, such as cancer. A new technology called CRISPR could allow us to edit genomes, which might lead us to the cure of such mutations as cancer, Alzheimer's and, theoretically, any disease with a genetic component.
  8. Scientists at Cambridge University believe humans have DNA in common with the mud worm and that it is the closest invertebrate genetic relative to us. In other words, you have more in common, genetically speaking, with a mud worm than you do with a spider or octopus or cockroach.
  9. Humans and cabbage share about 40-50% common DNA.
  10. Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1869, although scientists did not understand DNA was the genetic material in cells until 1943. Prior to that time, it was widely believed that proteins stored genetic information.