<p>Abstract</p> <p>When endogenous retroviruses (ERV) were discovered in the late 1960s, the Mendelian inheritance of retroviral genomes by their hosts was an entirely new concept. Indeed Howard M Temin's DNA provirus hypothesis enunciated in 1964 was not generally accepted, and reverse transcriptase was yet to be discovered. Nonetheless, the evidence that we accrued in the pre-molecular era has stood the test of time, and our hypothesis on ERV, which one reviewer described as 'impossible', proved to be correct. Here I recount some of the key observations in birds and mammals that led to the discovery of ERV, and comment on their evolution, cross-species dispersion, and what remains to be elucidated.</p
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