Category Archives: Ancient DNA

DNA and the Globalization of Humanity

Two questions that have occupied the human mind since the beginning of civilization are “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Today, with just a swab of saliva, millions of people worldwide have been able to take a peek into their genetic past, thanks to DNA testing. In most cases, such testing reveals a complex global and regional circulation of bloodlines.

Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

Geneticists have begun using old bones to make sweeping claims about the distant past. But their revisions to the human story are making some scholars of prehistory uneasy.

Found in a cave in Northwest Alaska, an ancient tooth offers insights into the first inhabitants of the Americas

A paper published in 2018 analyzes the oldest ancient human remains found in the Arctic: a 9,000-year-old child’s tooth.
The tooth was discovered, and forgotten, way back in 1949 at Trail Creek Caves, right outside the community of Deering. Jeff Rasic, an archaeologist working with the National Park Service, told KNOM what makes its rediscovery so special.

Ancient DNA from Viking Graves Proves the Fierce Fighters Rode Male Horses

Vikings who settled in Iceland more than 1,000 years ago valued their horses so much that the men were buried with their trusty steeds. And DNA analysis of these treasured animals recently proved that the horses consigned to the grave with their manly owners were males, too.

Project will map genetic make-up of Armenian community

Members of the Armenian community have been asked to provide DNA samples on Sunday after a Christmas church service in Nicosia for research that aims to map the genetic background of the Cypriot population.
Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6 and the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (Cing) – which is carrying out the research – has chosen this date as the most suitable for the DNA collection since it the church was expected to see a bigger turnout than usual.
Members of the Armenian community over the age of 18 who were born in Cyprus and who would like to participate in the project, will give saliva samples after the liturgy.

Ancient DNA can help bring aboriginal Australian ancestors home

The bones of thousands upon thousands of indigenous people sit in museums across the world. Their descendants want them back, but they must often fight for years to convince scientists the remains belong to their ancestors. And in some cases, information about where the ancestors are from has been lost. Now, a new study from Australia shows ancient DNA can reliably link aboriginal ancestors to their living descendants, opening up the possibility of using genetics to proactively return ancient remains to their communities.

Narrower Skulls, Oblong Brains: How Neanderthal DNA Still Shapes Us

Two genes inherited from our evolutionary cousins may affect skull shape and brain size even today. What that means for human behavior is a mystery.

Giving life to a woman found in a 4,250-year-old grave in Caithness

The research, published in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and led by archaeologist Maya Hoole, has shed new light on previous ideas on Ava’s appearance. She was found to be from an earlier date than previously thought.

DNA Identifies Origins of World’s Oldest Natural Mummy

Scientists discovered the ancient human skeleton known as the “Spirit Cave Mummy” back in 1940, hidden in a small rocky cave in the Great Basin Desert in northwest Nevada. But it wouldn’t be until the 1990s that radiocarbon dating techniques revealed the skeleton was some 10,600 years old, making it the oldest natural mummy ever found.

DNA Analysis Reveals History of Ancient Warriors

In 1962, an Alemannic burial site containing human skeletal remains was discovered in Niederstotzingen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Researchers at the Eurac Research Centre in Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, and at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, have now examined the DNA of these skeletal remains.

The world’s oldest piece of solid cheese was found in an Egyptian tomb — and it reveals how important cheese was in human history

This 3,200-year-old find is exciting because it shows that the Ancient Egyptian’s shared our love of cheese — to the extent it was given as a funerary offering. But not only that, it also fits into archaeology’s growing understanding of the importance of dairy to the development of the human diet in Europe.

DNA shows girl had one Neanderthal, one Denisovan parent

One can be forgiven for thinking that the first modern humans who ventured out of Africa stumbled into a vibrant bar scene. DNA from just a single cave in Siberia revealed that it had been occupied by two archaic human groups that had interbred with the newly arrived modern humans. This included both the Neanderthals, whom we knew about previously, and the Denisovans, who we didn’t even know existed and still know little about other than their DNA sequences. The DNA also revealed that one of the Denisovans had a Neanderthal ancestor a few hundred generations back in his past.

We’re Learning More About the Contents of that Mysterious Egyptian Sarcophagus

Back in July, Egyptian archaeologists dared to open a strange granite sarcophagus, finding three skeletons soaking in an unsightly reddish-brown liquid. Scientists have now completed a preliminary analysis of the coffin’s contents, offering new insights into the tomb’s 2,000-year-old occupants.

Cleanroom Work Uncovers Ancient Migrant Mysteries

A team of scientists has determined that settlers with blue eyes and fair skin inhabited the Levant — a historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean — about 6,500 years ago. The researchers used a dedicated cleanroom facility at Harvard Medical School to examine bone powder from skeletal remains to analyze ancient DNA.

Indonesia’s pygmies didn’t descend from hobbits, DNA analysis suggests

Rampasasa pygmies residing near a cave on Flores that previously yielded small-bodied hobbit fossils inherited DNA from Neandertals and Denisovans but not from any other now-extinct hominid, scientists say, an international team reports in the Aug. 3 Science. The finding provides genetic backup for a fossil-based argument portraying these controversial Stone Age hominids as a separate species, Homo floresiensis, not small-bodied Homo sapiens that could have represented ancestors of Rampasasa people.