Roughly 8 percent of your DNA isn’t really human. (How’s that for a morning wake-up call?) Instead, it’s the de-activated remnants of ancient retroviruses. All viruses hijack host cell machinery to replicate themselves, but retroviruses are a little more invasive than most. These viruses trick cells into turning viral RNA into DNA—the reverse of the normal DNA to RNA transcription process—and then snuggle that DNA right into the rest of the host’s genome. They mutate frequently and, sometimes, accidentally deactivate themselves—in which case the “dead” viral DNA just ends up hanging out in the human genome.

Resurrecting ancient viruses – Boing Boing

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