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Where Do New Viruses Come From?

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While the origin of the new Coronavirus is not yet known, we do know where new viruses normally come from. Hint: Darwin's theory of evolution is full of clues!

In this animation you will get a crash course in virology. You'll learn how viruses differ from other microbes, why most viruses can only infect one type of host organism, and how viruses evolve to infect new hosts.

For more information on evolution, visit

For more information on the idea that this virus may have come from a lab, see our article here:

For an excellent and accurate Q&A about the coronavirus, including things about how it is treated and how to stay safe, see this video by Dr. Ines Dawson. It's long but don't worry, in the video description she has a table of contents. Click the question you care about and it will jump right to that spot in the video!

Further Reading:
Overview of how new viruses evolve during spillover events

SARS coronavirus seems to have gone from bats to civets to people

RNA recombination as a source of genetic novelty in coronaviruses:

How recombination and reassortment work:

Recombination in single stranded RNA viruses

The evolution of SARS and a prediction that new coronaviruses will evolve in the future

How coronaviruses enter cells via binding and endocytosis:

How we stopped the SARS coronavirus

Pangolins as a potential intermediate host

In the animation I call the virus COVID-19, but this is technically incorrect. COVID-19 is the name of the disease it causes. The virus itself is called SARS CoV 2. Thanks to YouTube user "Charles Starbuck" for pointing out the error.
Rodrick Colberts insight:

Viruses infect the least fittest. 

Jaden Matthews-Johnson's curator insight, March 26, 2020 4:21 PM
The video talks about the origins of coronaviruses on a general scale. According to the video, COVID-19 virus make have evolved from an older, animal infecting virus to a new human infecting virus. Viruses are among the smaleest mircoorganisms to make people sick, they are so small that hundreds of viruses can fit into one bacteria cell in human comparison. Thousands have been studied by scientists so far, millions more likely exists but all species carry a collection of genes either DNA or RNA that then go to make copies of itself. They are protected in a coating of protein or a lipid membrane. Some infect humans, animals, or plants.

Coronavirus are a large family of viruses that infetc animal cells, like pigs, chickens, etc. Most are extremely mild and give one the common cold. The word "Corona" means crown refering to the crownlike spikes sticking out of their membranes. They don't attach to most objects but are sticky.vThey wait until swallowed by the cell.
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There Are More Viruses on Earth Than There Are Stars in the Universe | Daily Planet

There Are More Viruses on Earth Than There Are Stars in the Universe | Daily Planet | Rodrick's Blog |
And yes, they’re alive.
Rodrick Colberts insight:

A fascinating article on astrobiology and viruses. 

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