Category Archives: Ancient DNA

In Ancient Skeletons, Scientists Discover a Modern Foe: Hepatitis B

From 15 sets of skeletal remains, researchers have recovered DNA from the oldest viruses known to have infected humans— and have resurrected some strains in the laboratory.

Hun migrations ‘linked to deadly Justinian Plague’

The Justinian Plague, which struck in 541 AD, may have killed as many as 25 million.
Now, scientists say the outbreak probably originated in Asia, not Egypt as contemporary and more recent chroniclers had thought.
The finding comes from analysis of DNA found in 137 human skeletons unearthed on the Eurasian steppe.
The steppe region covers a vast area, spanning some 8,000km from Hungary to north-eastern China. The large sample of individuals covers a date range of 2,500 BC – 1,500 AD.

Whydah investigators using DNA in quest to ID pirate remains

A quest to determine whether human remains salvaged from the wreck of the Whydah pirate ship are those of its captain, Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy, brought an investigator for the project across the Atlantic Ocean to gather DNA from Bellamy’s descendant and visit the pirate’s birthplace.

The F.B.I. and the Mystery of the Mummy’s Head

A museum wasn’t sure whose head they had put on display. That’s when the F.B.I.’s forensic scientists were called in to crack the agency’s oldest case.

13,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Found—Oldest Yet From North America

When humans were walking around the west coast of current day Canada 13,000 years ago, they left behind footprints.
That’s according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE that outlines the discovery of 29 human footprints found at the shoreline of Calvert Island in British Columbia.

Exclusive: Royal Burial in Ancient Canaan May Shed New Light on Biblical City

An undisturbed elite tomb discovered in ancient Armageddon is replete with gold offerings—and the promise of unlocking secrets with DNA analysis.

DNA sheds light on settlement of Pacific

A study of ancient DNA has shed light on the epic journeys that led to the settlement of the Pacific by humans.

Ancient DNA Tells Tales of Humans’ Migratory History

Fueled by advances in analyzing DNA from the bones of ancient humans, scientists have dramatically expanded the number of samples studied­­ – revealing vast and surprising migrations and genetic mixing of populations in our prehistoric past.

Piecing together a Cape Cod pirate mystery

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. — A human bone freed from a mass of sediment found in the area of the sunken Whydah pirate ship could hold enough DNA to help scientists determine whether it belonged to the pirate captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy.

Britain’s Dark-Skinned, Blue-Eyed Ancestor Explained

A recent facial reconstruction of a 10,000-year-old skeleton called the “Cheddar Man” has revealed a man with bright blue eyes, slightly curly hair, and dark skin.
“It might surprise the public, but not ancient DNA geneticists,” says Mark Thomas, a scientist at the University College London.

Scientists discover the oldest human fossils outside Africa

An ancient jawbone uncovered from a collapsed cave on the coast of Israel is at least 175,000 years old, and it belonged to a member of our own species. Sophisticated stone tools were discovered nearby.

DNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were related

A pair of ancient Egyptian mummies, known for more than a century as the Two Brothers, were actually half brothers, a new study of their DNA finds.

Lost Native American Ancestor Revealed in Ancient Child’s DNA

A baby girl who lived some 11,500 years ago survived for just six weeks in the harsh climate of central Alaska, but her brief life is providing a surprising and challenging wealth of information to modern researchers.
Her genome is the oldest-yet complete genetic profile of a New World human. But if that isn’t enough, her genes also reveal the existence of a previously unknown population of people who are related to—but older and genetically distinct from— modern Native Americans.

The 5 Most Fascinating Skeletons Of 2017

This year has been a good one for skeletons. Bioarchaeological and forensic research continues to be published in a growing number of specialty and general academic journals, and it’s also being covered by mass media news outlets — from the well-known National Geographic and LiveScience to the up-and-coming SAPIENS. But these are the five most fascinating skeletons that I covered here at Forbes in 2017:

DNA Analysis Finds Descendants of ‘Warriors of the Clouds’ in Peru

The Chachapoyas, the “Warriors of the Clouds,” were a people that lived in the northern elevations of Peru, and put up a long-running struggle against the Inca Empire, which they eventually lost. Traditional tales told to the first Spanish conquerors of the New World about a century after their final defeat held that the Inca forcibly relocated the Chachapoyas to the corners of the massive empire, so they could never again pose a threat.