Category Archives: Ancient DNA

New ‘DNA clock’ finds that if our genes had their way, humans would have a ‘natural’ lifespan of 38 years

Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analysing their DNA.

When Did Ancient Humans Begin to Understand Death?

The dead lay in a cave, over a quarter-mile from daylight. Investigators counted remains from at least 28 individuals. The bones were fractured into nearly 7,000 pieces, mixed with bear fossils and mud — and a 6-inch, teardrop-shaped handaxe.
DNA analysis identified the individuals, dated to approximately 430,000 years ago, as early Neanderthals — our evolutionary cousins — or their ancestors.

Pliny the Elder died in the Mount Vesuvius eruption of A.D. 79. Is this his skull?

Just before his death, Pliny — also known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, a military leader and author of the influential tome “Natural History” — was fighting pirates in the Bay of Naples, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. When he saw a strange cloud (later found to be the result of the volcano’s massive eruption), he heroically directed Rome’s imperial fleet southward to Pompeii, where they planned to rescue survivors.

Revealing Genetic Secrets Using DNA Extracted From Extinct and Ancient Museum Specimens

DNA proteins extracted using a vortex fluidic device (VFD) could help answer important questions about extinct and ancient museum specimens.

Belfast’s Egyptian mummy ‘may have died in violent knife attack’

A team of experts appear to have solved a mystery that has confounded academics – and the public – for decades.
How did the Egyptian mummy on display in the Ulster Museum die?

Ancient DNA from West Africa Adds to Picture of Humans’ Rise

The Shum Laka rock shelter in Cameroon, where the remains of two 8,000-year-old boys were discovered in 1994. Scientists recently recovered ancient DNA from the two individuals and from another pair of children buried 5,000 years later.

Ancient Proteins Reveal 6,000-year-old Ring Was Made From Deer Antler or Bone

Nearly 6,000 years ago, in what’s now Denmark, a Neolithic crafter fashioned a ring from a piece of deer antler or bone. During the process, or soon after, the piece broke in two. It was apparently dropped — perhaps discarded in frustration — near other items, including a wooden spear that was also broken.
And there the ring waited, over time buried by debris and dirt, and eventually submerged beneath the sea.

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.