Category Archives: Ancient DNA

DNA Analysis of Ancient Rome Reveals a Cosmopolitan Megacity

A new collection of DNA from ancient Romans spanning 12,000 years shows how the population of the empire’s capital shifted along with its politics. Published in Science, the timeline is one of the first to examine what genetic information from archaeological digs says about the region after the time of hunter-gatherers and early farmers.

One-legged skeleton found under Russian dance floor is Napoleon’s ‘lost general’, DNA tests confirm

More than 200 years after he died of his battlefield wounds in Russia, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite generals has been formally identified thanks to DNA tests on a one-legged skeleton found under a dance floor.
His heirs are now calling for him to receive a state funeral in his native France.

Scientists Think They’ve Found ‘Mitochondrial Eve’s’ First Homeland

The San people of southern Africa carry one of the oldest maternal DNA lineages on Earth. Now, researchers think they know the precise place our earliest maternal ancestor called home.

Face of medieval man reconstructed from 600-year-old skull dug up in Scotland

A group of archaeologists and researchers announced Tuesday that they recreated the face of a medieval man whose remains were dug up in a Scotland museum four years ago.
The man, who researchers identified as Skeleton 125, was found among 60 skeletons and 4,272 bone fragments on the site of the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Aberdeen, Scotland amid construction of a new development on the site.

I was writing about colonial America’s first enslaved Africans.

USA TODAY-The search for one woman’s family led a reporter to find her own roots using oral history, archives and DNA tests. It also led to stunning results.

Missing Box Contains Bones of Britain’s Early Inhabitants

A box of bones stored in an archive for 55 years has turned out the contain some of the oldest human remains ever found on the island of Great Britain. Carbon dating reveals that the bones found in a cave in Somerset are as old or even older than those of Cheddar Man, the earliest-known inhabitant of the island, also found in Somerset.

First portrait of extinct Denisovan human relative created from pinky bone DNA

While much is known about Neanderthals and how they lived, Denisovans have remained enigmatic because only a handful of bone fragments from the ancient group have ever been found.
But now we have a good idea of how Denisovans looked. In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, scientists took DNA from a Denisovan pinky bone found in a Siberian cave in 2008 and used it to predict Denisovan anatomical features.

1.7-Million-Year-Old Rhino Tooth Provides Oldest DNA Data Ever Studied

DNA sequencing has revolutionized the way researchers study evolution and animal taxonomy. But DNA has its limits—it’s a fragile molecule that degrades over time. So far, the oldest DNA sequenced came from a 700,000-year-old horse frozen in permafrost. But a new technique based on the emerging field of proteomics has begun to unlock the deep past, and recently researchers extracted genetic information from the tooth enamel of a rhinoceros that lived 1.7 million years ago.

Scientists Find the Skull of Humanity’s Ancestor, on a Computer

Now researchers like Dr. Mounier are using computers and mathematical techniques to reconstruct the appearance of fossils they have yet to find. On Tuesday, Dr. Mounier and Marta Mirazón Lahr, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge in Britain, unveiled a virtual skull belonging to the last common ancestor of all modern humans, who lived in Africa about 300,000 years ago.

Can DNA solve the mystery of Europe’s pointy skulls?

Skull modification may have been an extreme way to declare one’s identity during the Migration Period (ca. 300-700 A.D.), when so-called “barbarian” groups like the Goths and the Huns were vying for control of territory in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Could ancient DNA help archaeologists pinpoint what exactly those cultural alliances were?

DNA Analysis Just Made The Eerie Mystery of Himalayan ‘Skeleton Lake’ Even Stranger

High in the Himalayas of India, amid the snow-capped peaks, nestles a mystery. Roopkund Lake is a shallow body of water filled with human bones – the skeletons of hundreds of individuals. It’s these that give the lake its other name, Skeleton Lake, and no one knows how the remains came to be there.

A Connecticut ‘vampire’s’ remains were found 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life

After Barber’s grave was discovered, his remains were sent to the museum for study, and a sample from a thigh bone was sent to the DNA lab for analysis. But the technology of 30 years ago yielded scant results, the paper’s authors wrote, and identification was impossible.
But when modern tools were used – Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and surname prediction via genealogy data available on the internet – the experts said they came up with a match for the last name: Barber.

Toe fragment could hold the clue to cause of Robert the Bruce’s death

The geneticist whose DNA analysis identified the remains of Richard III is turning her attention to a toe from the body of the Scottish warrior king, Robert the Bruce, to determine the illness that struck him down.

A new look at the Gibraltar Neanderthals

Modern DNA sequencing techniques are allowing us to discover more about some iconic Neanderthal skulls than ever before.

Ancient DNA reveals new twists in Neanderthal migration

In 1856, some curious remains turned up at a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley in Germany. While the skull fragment and bones vaguely resembled those of modern humans, the brow was too robust, and the bones were too hefty. It took eight years for scientists to recognize the fossils as the first evidence of a whole other species of ancient human, Homo neanderthalensis.
Further discoveries have since revealed much more about the Neanderthals, including where they lived, how they cared for their young, and perhaps even their artwork. Now, using ancient DNA extracted from a pair of European Neanderthals, scientists are getting a more detailed picture of the species’ journey across our prehistoric planet.