Category Archives: Ancient DNA

Recent Discoveries Have Overhauled Our Picture of Where Humans Came From, And When

In recent years, anthropologists around the world have discovered new human ancestors, figured out what happened to the Neanderthals, and pushed back the age of the earliest member of our species.
Taken together, these breakthroughs suggest that many of our previous ideas about the human origin story – who we are and where we came from – were wrong.

Etched in DNA: Decoding the secrets of the past

Human origins research. The phrase probably evokes an image of dusty scientists hunched over in the sun, combing the ground for scraps left behind by people of millennia past. The field has long been the realm of stones and bones, with test tube-filled laboratories playing second fiddle.

DNA from 5,700-year-old ‘gum’ shows what one ancient woman may have looked like

The rise of ancient genomics has revolutionised our understanding of human prehistory but this work depends on the availability of suitable samples. Here we present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a 5700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark.

A new study shows an animal’s lifespan is written in the DNA. For humans, it’s 38 years

Our research, published today in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages – and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.

How One Archaeologist–Artist Completely Reconstructed the Body of a 7,000-Year-Old Woman

Oscar Nilsson is a world-renowned reconstruction artist, taking the remains of prehistoric humans and bringing them back to life using a complex system of anatomical analysis, 3D printing, and occasional DNA analysis. But what’s equally vital to his job is a sense of context.

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?