Related topics: dna sequences

Ancient proteins offer clues to the past

Archeologists once relied solely on artifacts, such as skeletal remains, fossils and pottery sherds, to learn about past species and cultures. Today's scientists can also study ancient proteins to paint a more complete picture ...

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 ...

Details of the history of inner Eurasia revealed by new study

An international team of researchers has combined archaeological, historical and linguistic data with genetic information from over 700 newly analyzed individuals to construct a more detailed picture of the history of inner ...

A history of the Crusades, as told by crusaders' DNA

History can tell us a lot about the Crusades, the series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the Near East. But the DNA of nine 13th century Crusaders buried in a pit ...

Origins of giant extinct New Zealand bird traced to Africa

Scientists have revealed the African origins of New Zealand's most mysterious giant flightless bird – the now extinct adzebill – showing that some of its closest living relatives are the pint-sized flufftails from Madagascar ...

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Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA can be loosely described as any DNA recovered from biological samples that have not been preserved specifically for later DNA analyses. Examples include the analysis of DNA recovered from archaeological and historical skeletal material, mummified tissues, archival collections of non-frozen medical specimens, preserved plant remains, ice and permafrost cores, Holocene plankton in marine and lake sediments, and so on. Unlike modern genetic analyses, ancient DNA studies are characterised by low quality DNA. This places limits on what analyses can achieve. Furthermore, due to degradation of the DNA molecules, a process which correlates loosely with factors such as time, temperature and presence of free water, upper limits exist beyond which no DNA is deemed likely to survive. Current estimates suggest that in optimal environments, i.e environments which are very cold, such as permafrost or ice, an upper limit of max 1 Million years exists. As such, early studies that reported recovery of much older DNA, for example, from Cretaceous dinosaur remains, have been proven to be wrong, with results stemming from sample or extract contamination, as opposed to authentic extracted DNA.

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