On the News | Ancient-human genomes plucked from cave dirt @ Nature News and Comments

On the News @ Nature News and Comments

Ancient-human genomes plucked from cave dirt


Entrance to the Vindija Cave in Croatia, one archaeological site from which researchers isolated ancient-human DNA from dirt. Image Credit: Johannes Krause/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

“Bones and teeth aren’t the only ways to learn about extinct human relatives. For the first time, researchers have recovered ancient-human DNA without having obvious remains — just dirt from the caves the hominins lived in. The technique opens up a new way to probe prehistory.

From sediments in European and Asian caves, a team led by geneticist Viviane Slon and molecular biologist Matthias Meyer, both at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequenced genomes of cell structures called mitochondria from Neanderthals and another hominin group, the Denisovans. Their work is published in Science.

“It’s exciting to see that you can end up with a whole pile of ancient-human DNA from just dirt,” says Michael Bunce, an evolutionary biologist at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

Slon and Meyer are not the first to decode ancient dirt. Palaeogeneticist Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen pioneered the approach in 2003, to find out about the plants and animals that populated prehistoric environments. Using the technique, he and his team revealed that Greenland was once richly forested. But Slon and Meyer are the first to use the technique on hominin DNA.” READ MORE

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READ IT HERE: https://www.nature.com/news/ancient-human-genomes-plucked-from-cave-dirt-1.21910

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)