Imagine being able to collect the DNA of a human ancestor who’s been dead for tens of thousands of years from the dirt on the floor of a cave. Sounds fantastic, but scientists in Germany think they may be able to do just that. If they’re successful, it could open a new door into understanding the extinct relatives of humans.
SANTIAGO – The world’s oldest mummies have just had an unusual check-up.
More than 7,000 years after they were embalmed by the Chinchorro people, an ancient civilization in modern-day Chile and Peru, 15 mummies were taken to a Santiago clinic last week to undergo DNA analysis and computerized tomography scans.
Prehistoric America was not a disease-free utopia. Tuberculosis, treponemal disease, Chagas disease, and many other pathogens were endemic to populations in different regions of the continent. But the “Columbian Exchange” beginning in 1492 introduced new pathogens to American populations, including smallpox, measles, influenza, and yellow fever. This introduction had devastating consequences for tribes. In some places, death from infectious disease resulted in the depopulation of entire regions, leading to the collapse of social, economic, and political institutions, and the loss of many traditional cultural practices and ways of life.
Two archaeological findings in Greece, the Antikythera Man and the mass grave at Pheleron Delta were included in the top 10 discoveries for 2016 by “Archaeology” magazine. The publication is published by the Archaeological Institute of America and its editors announced their picks for the most compelling finds of the year expiring in two weeks. Following is the complete list:
NPR- The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus.
Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins.
Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire- 48 skeletons have been discovered in what researchers are calling a ‘Plague Pit.’ 27 of these were from children, say the researchers. This represents an extremely rare discovery, suggesting that the community was overwhelmed by the Black Death.
Most human genomes harbor small fragments of Neanderthal DNA, the legacy of prehistoric hanky-panky between our ancestors and their hominid cousins.
For the most part, that inheritance has been detrimental. Research suggests that as much as 10 percent of the human genome was inherited from archaic hominids other than Homo sapiens, but the majority of that material was weeded out by tens of thousands of years of natural selection. The DNA that does remain has been blamed for increasing risk of depression, Type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, lupus, allergies, addiction and more.
Today, any scandal by a member of the United Kingdom’s royal family will likely end up plastered on the front page of gossip magazines. But for centuries, intrigue among blue bloods carried much deadlier consequences. Now, as Alison Smale reports for The New York Times, a skeleton recently unearthed in a German castle could shed light on a 17th-century cold case linked to a then-future monarch.
Major study of ancient DNA from skeletons found on the Pacific Islands uncovers the populations’ genetic pre-history. The first inhabitants of Vanuatu and Tonga came from East Asia and not from other parts of the Pacific as previously thought, a new DNA study has shown.
Smithsonian- For centuries, Aboriginal Australians have said they belonged to the oldest sustained civilization on the face of the Earth, citing their culture and history of oral storytelling that stretches back tens of thousands of years. Now, one of the most extensive analyses of Indigenous Australian DNA to date suggests that they’ve been right all along.
Hannes Schroeder snaps on two pairs of blue latex gloves, then wipes his hands with a solution of bleach. In front of him is a large Tupperware box full of plastic bags that each contain sea water and a piece of red-stained bone. He lifts one out and inspects its contents as several archaeologists hover behind, waiting for his verdict. They’re hoping he can pull off a feat never attempted before—DNA analysis on someone who has been under the sea for 2,000 years.
Thousands of vials containing the DNA of Italians with very long lifespans have gone missing.
This DNA was collected years ago as part of widespread research interest in the island of Sardinia, whose residents are some of the world’s longest living people. On average, 21 out of every 10,000 residents in one area of Sardinia live to age 100. In comparison, only four out of 10,000 Americans get to celebrate that birthday.
It wiped out nearly a quarter of London’s population and was one of the triggers for the scientific renaissance that swept England in the 17th Century.
Now the bacteria that caused the Great Plague of London between 1665 and 1666 has been definitively identified as the bug that causes bubonic plague – Yersinia pestis.
Archaeologists used DNA testing on skeletons found in a mass grave in a churchyard uncovered during the construction of the new Crossrail Elizabeth that will run through the city’s Liverpool Street Station.
Lima, Aug. 26. Archaeologist Regulo Franco Jordan announced that Harvard University experts have started to analyze the DNA of Lady of Cao, the first female ruler of pre-Columbian Peru.
…When Oetzi was discovered in 1991, famously well preserved in the ice of the Italian Alps, this type of ancient DNA analysis was impossible.
“25 years ago, the study of ancient DNA was in its infancy,” Mr O’Sullivan told BBC News. “It would not have been possible to infer, to the same extent, the species of origin or how domesticated the leathers were…”