Category Archives: Ancient DNA

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.

“Dark” Heart of the Human Genome Contains Chunks of Ancient DNA

Geneticists exploring the dark heart of the human genome have discovered big chunks of Neanderthal and other ancient DNA. The results open new ways to study both how chromosomes behave during cell division and how they have changed during human evolution.

DNA analysis suggests Dene descended from first North Americans

The Indigenous people of Canada’s Western Arctic are descendants of some of the first humans to live in North America, new genetic research suggests.
A paper published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature has found the Dene, who live across much of the northern part of the continent and into the southern United States, have roots thousands of years older than previously thought.

Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

Somewhere in a remote cave in western Georgia, a few dozen miles east of the Black Sea shore, scientists on an archaeological dig were searching among scattered stalagmites for pieces of the past. Ancient bones were strewn about on the floor of the cave, but those held only mild interest for the team. Instead, they gathered buckets of sediment, on the hunt for ancient DNA.

The Teeth of Early Neanderthals May Indicate the Species’ Lineage Is Older Than Thought

In a cave called the ‘pit of bones,’ up in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, a collection of 430,000-year-old teeth are curiously smaller than might be expected for the skulls they were found with. The anomaly has one scientist suggesting that the lineages of modern humans and Neanderthals split some 800,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than genetic studies have estimated.

Oldest Scandinavian human DNA found in ancient chewing gum

The first humans who settled in Scandinavia more than 10,000 years ago left their DNA behind in ancient chewing gum, masticated lumps made from birch bark pitch. This is shown in a new study conducted at Stockholm University and published in Communications Biology.

Researchers from Europe and the United Kingdom have successfully used DNA analysis to determine the identity of 15 ancient skeletons uncovered in 2011.

Researchers from Europe and the United Kingdom have successfully used DNA analysis to determine the identity of 15 ancient skeletons uncovered in 2011.
In a study featured in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archeologists from several different organizations have worked together to examine 5,000-year-old human remains that were unearthed near the city of Koszyce in Poland.

DNA Reveals Ancient Mass Grave Of Massacred Women And Children Were From Same Family

In 2011, archaeologists working in Poland made a grizzly discovery. A mass grave of 15 individuals—mostly women and children—that had been executed during a massacre. Scientists have now discovered that these 5,000-year-old murder victims were part of the same, extended family—and had been buried with great care, with mothers placed next to their children, and siblings by each others side.

Blackfeet man’s DNA oldest found in Americas, testing company says

For Crawford, the company traced his line back 55 generations with a 99 percent accuracy rate. That’s rare because the ancestry often is clouded that far back, according to the company.
It was, they told him, like finding Bigfoot, it was so unlikely.

Jaw from a mysterious human species shows early embrace of the high life

Four decades ago, a monk came to pray at a limestone cave two miles above sea level in the Tibetan Plateau. There the monk found half of a human mandible. He took the bone from the cave, and his village gave it to scientists working in the area, who stored the jawbone in an archaeological collection.
In 2010, archaeologists began studying the fossil and made a remarkable discovery: This high-altitude jaw is not like yours or mine. Proteins pried out of its ancient teeth revealed the mandible belonged to a Denisovan, an extinct human species related to Neanderthals.

DNA reveals megalithic tombs were family graves

DNA testing of teeth found in megalithic tombs older than the pyramids has revealed how family members as much as 12 generations apart were buried together by our Stone Age ancestors.
A new international study confirmed for the first time through genetic analysis that megalithic tombs, which have always been shrouded in mystery, contain many closely related individuals.

Italians try to crack Leonardo da Vinci DNA code with lock of hair

Two Italian experts are set to perform a DNA test on a lock of hair that they say might have belonged to Leonardo da Vinci.

A simple approach to dating bones

In the late 1990s, as an anthropology PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ann Ross travelled to Bosnia to help identify casualties of war. In her current role as head of the Human Identification and Forensic Analysis Laboratory at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, she does much the same for the people of her state. Her lab — a refurbished engineering space measuring about 90 square metres — has a contract with the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which means that when a human skeleton is recovered, it is her job to determine what happened. The lab has enough tables for four skeletons. Most days, Ross says, all the tables are occupied: her lab is revisiting each of the state’s 130-odd cold cases, many dating back decades, to see whether modern forensic science can shed light on what happened.

Is Shakespeare’s DNA Hiding in the Folger Library’s Vault?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s underground storage facility stretches a full block beneath the building, protected by a nine-inch-thick steel bank-vault door. It houses about 260,000 historically significant books, along with manuscripts, documents, and even costumes saved from 19th-century productions. But could the Capitol Hill research library—the largest collection devoted to the Bard in the world—also contain, quite literally, Shakespeare himself?