Nav: Home

Human DNA uncovered in caves without bones

April 27, 2017

In cave sediments lacking skeletal remains, scientists report having found DNA from ancient humans. The highly sensitive screening technique they applied even identified ancient human DNA sequences from locations where Neandertal presence has been proposed but never demonstrated; thus, say the authors, the technique represents a valuable tool for reconstructing human (and other mammalian species') evolutionary history. To date, DNA analysis from archaic individuals has greatly informed our understanding of evolution. However, fossils from the Pleistocene (often referred to as the Ice Age) have been scarce, impeding scientists' understanding of ancient human movement in this epoch. Vivian Slon et al. decided to investigate whether hominin DNA could survive in sediments at archaeological sites even in the absence of bones. They collected 85 sediment samples from seven Pleistocene sites in Europe and Russia where ancient humans are known to have lived. From the mammalian DNA identified in these samples, they isolated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Large-scale screening of this mtDNA revealed Neandertal DNA in four caves and Denisovan DNA in another. The results may help to establish DNA analyses of sediments as a useful archaeological procedure in the future.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Pleistocene Articles:

Study details evidence for past large earthquakes in the Eastern Tennessee seismic zone
The Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone (ETSZ), a zone of small earthquakes stretching from northeastern Alabama to southwestern Virginia, may have generated earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater within the last 25,000 years, according to a study published June 27 in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Human DNA uncovered in caves without bones
In cave sediments lacking skeletal remains, scientists report having found DNA from ancient humans.
A new technique makes it possible to extract the DNA from hominids preserved in sediments
The sediments forming the layers or strata at archaeological sites can be very rich in bone remains, but until now their possible fossil DNA content had not attracted the attention of paleoanthropologists.
Moisture played a role in megafaunal extinctions
A new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution reveals that increased moisture levels may have been a primary cause of death for giant herbivores approximately 10,000 years ago.
400,000-year-old fossil human cranium is oldest ever found in Portugal
A large international research team, directed by the Portuguese archaeologist João Zilhão and including Binghamton University anthropologist Rolf Quam, has found the oldest fossil human cranium in Portugal, marking an important contribution to knowledge of human evolution during the middle Pleistocene in Europe and to the origin of the Neandertals.
More Pleistocene News and Pleistocene Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.