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Post  Post subject: A Picture of the Past Using DNA?  |  Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:18 pm
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Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:53 pm
Posts: 380
Location: Farnham Royal, Bucks

I have been reading, with excitement, the techniques that are used to extract DNA from ancient human remains in order to put together a big picture of gender, lineage, hair colour, eye colour and skin colour.

This is an amazing find for me! However, I wonder how it would help to know if Neanderthals could have had reddish hair and a fair complexion. Is it for our human interest in other humans or does it help to place isolated finds into a greater whole which shines a light on the development of the human race?


Skeletal remains represent a unique type of biological
material. Due to their unique features, bones and teeth
can be resistant to degradation and, depending on the
environmental storage conditions, can provide a good
source of DNA suitable for genetic analysis thousands of
years after an organism’s death. DNA analysis of ancient
bones and teeth is used to explore various aspects of a
species’ history, including archaic and modern humans.
For instance, the application of next generation DNA sequencing
(NGS) technologies to ancient human bones
has allowed the establishment of whole genome information
on Neanderthals [1] and Denisovans [2]. These
studies not only revealed that Denisovans represent a
distinct archaic human taxon [2], which was impossible
to conclude from the finger bone found as its only evidence,
but also highlighted that a genetic admixture
likely occurred between both archaic human taxons and
modern humans, respectively

Barbarus hic ego sum quia non intelligor illis (I am a barbarian to those who do not know me) Ovid

Post  Post subject: Re: A Picture of the Past Using DNA?  |  Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:09 pm
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5730
Location: Iowa

jimmydasaint wrote:
...or does it help to place isolated finds into a greater whole which shines a light on the development of the human race?

This is definitely my perspective. It's another piece making the picture on that final puzzle that much more clear and precise and focused. :) It also may help us to better understand genetic issues of the present. The better we understand what happened with our ancestors and how they merged, the better informed we are to tackle the problems we face today.


"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan

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