(CNN)Ancient Egyptians and their modern counterparts share less in common than you might think. That is, at least genetically, a team of scientists have found.
Researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, both in Germany, have decoded the genome of ancient Egyptians for the first time, with unexpected results.
Let’s face it: Even with the modern conveniences of U-Hauls and cardboard boxes, moving is a pain. For Neolithic humans living in Europe 5,000 years ago, the obstacles—roaming predators, lack of transportation, unforgiving—must have seemed insurmountable. “Deep in the past, a few humans could have moved hundreds of kilometers, certainly, but most people at that time would not have,” says Chris Tyler-Smith, a human genetics researcher at England’s Sanger Institute.
The tombs of ancient Egypt have yielded golden collars and ivory bracelets, but another treasure — human DNA — has proved elusive. Now, scientists have captured sweeping genomic information from Egyptian mummies. It reveals that mummies were closely related to ancient Middle Easterners, hinting that northern Africans might have different genetic roots from people south of the Sahara desert.
Ancient Egyptians were an archaeologist’s dream. They left behind intricate coffins, massive pyramids and gorgeous hieroglyphs, the pictorial writing code cracked in 1799. Egyptians recorded tales of royalty and gods. They jotted down life’s miscellanies, too, as humdrum as beer recipes and doctor’s notes.
But there was one persistent hole in ancient Egyptian identity: their chromosomes. Cool, dry permafrost can preserve prehistoric DNA like a natural freezer, but Egypt is a gene incinerator. The region is hot. Within the mummies’ tombs, where scientists would hope to find genetic samples, humidity wrecked their DNA. What’s more, soda ash and other chemicals used by Egyptian embalmers damaged genetic material.
A jawbone discovered by German troops in Athens during the Second World War could be evidence that apes and humans diverged 200,000 years earlier than the current theory says.
Chimpanzees and bonobos are the nearest known relatives to humans, sharing 99 per cent of our DNA. It’s believed that we split between five and seven million years ago.
Scientists examining human remains from Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose are hoping to reconstruct skeletons of some of its crew using DNA.
Previous attempts to reform the bodies were based on “physical matching”, including bone size, and not DNA.
It is hoped more faces of some crew members can then be recreated.
The University of Portsmouth research will also enable scientists to learn more about their heights, ages and where they came from.
George Sandeman – The case of a woman who burned to death on the slopes of a Norwegian valley that has left police stumped for nearly 50 years has been reopened.
Using the latest DNA analysis techniques they have built a genetic profile of the woman and hope that by sharing the data with forces across Europe they will be able to solve the decades-long mystery.
Sifting through teaspoons of clay and sand scraped from the floors of caves, German researchers have managed to isolate ancient human DNA — without turning up a single bone.
Their new technique, described in a study published on Thursday in the journal Science, promises to open new avenues of research into human prehistory and was met with excitement by geneticists and archaeologists.
If you’re looking for the middle of nowhere, the Bjaeldskovdal bog is a good place to start. It lies six miles outside the small town of Silkeborg in the middle of Denmark’s flat, sparse Jutland peninsula. The bog itself is little more than a spongy carpet of moss, with a few sad trees poking out. An ethereal stillness hangs over it. A child would put it more simply: This place is really spooky.
The growth of forensic science and art has allowed a look into the faces of kings, from the famous Shakespearean villain Richard III, to the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, to the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun.
But what about the rabble? What about the commoners buried in small plots without pomp, and forgotten not long after they left this mortal coil?
A new project in Cambridge called “After the Plague” aims to understand the plight of the common man and woman in and around the time the Black Death hit England in 1348.
Scientists have discovered two partial human skulls in central China that they say could potentially belong to an unknown archaic human species.
The skulls are 105,000 to 125,000 years old, and they contain a unique mix of modern human and Neanderthal features. Excitingly, they could be the key to filling in some of the missing pieces of the human family tree in east Asia.
The results suggest that a maternal “dynasty” ruled the society’s greatest mansion for more than 300 years, but concerns over research ethics cast a shadow on the technical achievement.
Here’s a riddle for you: What does an ancient tooth unearthed in Troy, a bald eagle feather, and a scrap of metal from a WWII fighter plane all have in common?
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.