Nav: Home

Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian Peru

April 22, 2012

Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been used to establish migration and population patterns for American indigenous cultures during the time before Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Genetics has used more detailed DNA analysis of individuals from Arequipa region to identify the family relationships and burial traditions of ancient Peru.

The social unit (ayllu) of Native South Americans is thought to be based on kin relationships. The establishment of ayllu-based communities is also associated with funereal monuments (chullpas) which are thought to be important social sites not only because of their religious importance but because they housed the venerated ayllu's ancestors. Ancestor worship and a belief in a common ancestor, central to the ayllu, still exists in the traditions of the Q'ero community.

Researchers from University of Warsaw, in collaboration with Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria, used DNA analysis to reconstruct the family trees of individuals buried in six chullpas near the Coropuna volcano is southern Peru. Despite prior looting, the unique nature of this site, 4000m up the Cora Cora mountain, allowed an extraordinary preservation of human remains and of DNA within both teeth and bone.

mtDNA analysis showed that the groups were of Andean origin and indicated a 500 year continuity, up to modern Andeans, without any major impact by European colonisation.

The social structure of an aylla was established using Y (male) chromosome and autosomal microsatellites analysis, in conjunction with the mtDNA. Family connections were clearly strongest within each chullpa, since individuals buried in the same chullpa were more closely related than those buried in different chullpas, and all males buried together shared identical Y chromosome profiles. In two of the chullpas several generations of related males were found. This matches current thought that the ancient Andians would swap women between families - so called 'sister exchange' while the men retained the ancestral land.

The combinations of DNA analysis used allowed for an unprecedented level of detail in social behaviour to be discerned. In one chullpa three different Y chromosome lineages were found. Comparison of mtDNA within this chullpa suggests that two of the males had the same mother but different fathers, and the third male was related to one of the females, probably a half brother.

Mateusz Baca explained, "Our results show that this community of llama and alpaca herders was (genetically) an extended patriarchal society. The use of chullpas as family graves is consistent with the idea of ayllu-based communities based around strong kinship relationships. However, the chullpa with mixed male heritage shows that this social structure could also be flexible and the strict rules governing marriage and family could be intentionally, or unintentionally, relaxed."
-end-
Notes to Editors

1. Ancient DNA reveals kinship burial patterns of a pre-Columbian Andean community
Mateusz Baca, Karolina Doan, Maciej Sobczyk, Anna Stankovic and Piotr Weglenski
BMC Genetics (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. BMC Genetics is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of inheritance and variation in individuals and among populations.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

BioMed Central

Related Dna Articles:

Penn State DNA ladders: Inexpensive molecular rulers for DNA research
New license-free tools will allow researchers to estimate the size of DNA fragments for a fraction of the cost of currently available methods.
It is easier for a DNA knot...
How can long DNA filaments, which have convoluted and highly knotted structure, manage to pass through the tiny pores of biological systems?
How do metals interact with DNA?
Since a couple of decades, metal-containing drugs have been successfully used to fight against certain types of cancer.
Electrons use DNA like a wire for signaling DNA replication
A Caltech-led study has shown that the electrical wire-like behavior of DNA is involved in the molecule's replication.
Switched-on DNA
DNA, the stuff of life, may very well also pack quite the jolt for engineers trying to advance the development of tiny, low-cost electronic devices.
Researchers are first to see DNA 'blink'
Northwestern University biomedical engineers have developed imaging technology that is the first to see DNA 'blink,' or fluoresce.
Finding our way around DNA
A Salk team developed a tool that maps functional areas of the genome to better understand disease.
A 'strand' of DNA as never before
In a carefully designed polymer, researchers at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences have imprinted a sequence of a single strand of DNA.
Doubling down on DNA
The African clawed frog X. laevis genome contains two full sets of chromosomes from two extinct ancestors.
'Poring over' DNA
Church's team at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard Medical School developed a new electronic DNA sequencing platform based on biologically engineered nanopores that could help overcome present limitations.

Related Dna Reading:

DNA: The Story of the Genetic Revolution
by James D. Watson (Author), Andrew Berry (Author), Kevin Davies (Author)

The definitive insider's history of the genetic revolution--significantly updated to reflect the discoveries of the last decade.

James D. Watson, the Nobel laureate whose pioneering work helped unlock the mystery of DNA's structure, charts the greatest scientific journey of our time, from the discovery of the double helix to today's controversies to what the future may hold. Updated to include new findings in gene editing, epigenetics, agricultural chemistry, as well as two entirely new chapters on personal genomics and cancer research. This is the most comprehensive and... View Details


The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
by Blaine T. Bettinger (Author)

Unlock the secrets in your DNA!

Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using the most-cutting edge tool available. This plain-English guide is a one-stop resource for how to use DNA testing for genealogy. Inside, you'll find guidance on what DNA tests are available, plus the methodologies and pros and cons of the three major testing companies and advice on choosing the right test to answer your specific genealogy questions. And once you've taken a DNA test, this guide will demystify the often-overwhelming subject and explain how to interpret DNA test results,... View Details


DNA: A Graphic Guide to the Molecule that Shook the World
by Israel Rosenfield (Author), Edward Ziff (Author), Borin Van Loon (Author)

With humor, depth, and philosophical and historical insight, DNA reaches out to a wide range of readers with its graphic portrayal of a complicated science. Suitable for use in and out of the classroom, this volume covers DNA's many marvels, from its original discovery in 1869 to early-twentieth-century debates on the mechanisms of inheritance and the deeper nature of life's evolution and variety.

Even readers who lack a background in science and philosophy will learn a tremendous amount from this engaging narrative. The book elucidates DNA's relationship to health and the... View Details


The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
by Scott Galloway (Author)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY 
BESTSELLER


Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are the four most influential companies on the planet. Just about everyone thinks they know how they got there. Just about everyone is wrong. 

For all that’s been written about the Four over the last two decades, no one has captured their power and staggering success as insightfully as Scott Galloway.

Instead of buying the myths these compa­nies broadcast, Galloway asks fundamental questions. How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that... View Details


Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement Expanded Edition
by Katy Bowman (Author)

Humorous, fascinating, and science based, the bestselling first edition of Move Your DNA has been updated and expanded to include a comprehensive three-level exercise program.

In layperson-friendly terms Move Your DNA addresses the vast quantities of disease we are suffering from, identifying our lack of movement as the primary cause. Readers can use the corrective exercises and lifestyle changes Katy Bowman has created to help each of us transition to healthy, naturally moving bodies. Move Your DNA explains the science behind our need for natural movement right down... View Details


DNA Science: A First Course, Second Edition
by David Micklos (Author), Greg Freyer (Author)

This is the second edition of a highly successful textbook (over 50,000 copies sold) in which a highly illustrated, narrative text is combined with easytouse thoroughly reliable laboratory protocols. It contains a fully uptodate collection of 12 rigorously tested and reliable lab experiments in molecular biology, developed at the internationally renowned Dolan DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which culminate in the construction and cloning of a recombinant DNA molecule. Proven through more than 10 years of teaching at research and nonresearch colleges and universities,... View Details


The DNA of Relationships
by Gary Smalley (Author)

“Life is relationships; the rest is just details.” We are designed for relationships, yet they often bring us pain. In this paradigm-shifting book, Dr. Gary Smalley unravels the DNA of relationships: We are made for three great relationships―with God, others, and ourselves―and all relationships involve choice. Gary exposes a destructive relationship dance that characterizes nearly every relationship conflict, and he offers five new dance steps that will revolutionize relationships. The DNA of Relationships, the cornerstone book in Gary Smalley's relationship campaign, will help you... View Details


The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
by Jeff Dyer (Author), Hal Gregersen (Author), Clayton M. Christensen (Author)

A new classic, cited by leaders and media around the globe as a highly recommended read for anyone interested in innovation.

In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, How Will You Measure Your Life?) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.

By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and... View Details


DNA (Science Readers: Content and Literacy)
by Teacher Created Materials;Wendy Conklin (Author)

DNA is known as the blueprint for life! Found in every cell of every living thing, DNA strands are packed inside a cell’s nucleus carrying instructions and genetic information. Climb the double helix ladder and crack the DNA code in this fact-filled life science book to explore genetics and why parts of you may appear identical to your great, great, great grandparent. Fifth-grade readers will learn about DNA structure and replication, proteins and genes, chromosomes, inherited traits and alleles, cloning, and more through this high-interest informational text filled with vibrant... View Details


Genetics For Dummies
by Tara Rodden Robinson (Author)

A plain-English guide to genetics

Want to know more about genetics? This non-intimidating guide gets you up to speed on all the fundamentals and the most recent discoveries. Now with 25% new and revised material, Genetics For Dummies, 2nd Edition gives you clear and accessible coverage of this rapidly advancing field.

From dominant and recessive inherited traits to the DNA double-helix, you get clear explanations in easy-to-understand terms. Plus, you'll see how people are applying genetic science to fight disease, develop new products, solve crimes . . . and even... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."