Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA News -- ScienceDaily Read latest scientific findings on ancient DNA, including research on DNA preserved from early life forms and early humans.

  • David Attenborough gains new species namesake
    on August 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    A new species of damselfly from the Cretaceous period has been named after the iconic naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough. […]

  • Origins of DNA folding suggested in archaea
    on August 10, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Proteins in archaea bend strands of DNA in a way that's similar in eukaryotes, new research reveals. That similarity hints at the evolutionary origin of the elaborate folding that eukaryotic cells use to cram their genome into a nucleus. […]

  • Ancient DNA used to track Mesa Verde exodus in 13th century
    on August 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Ancient DNA used to track the mass exodus of Ancestral Pueblo people from Colorado's Mesa Verde region in the late 13th century indicates many wound up in the Northern Rio Grande area north of Santa Fe, N.M., inhabited today by the Tewa Pueblo people. […]

  • First winged mammals from the Jurassic period discovered
    on August 9, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Two 160-million-year-old mammal fossils discovered in China show that the forerunners of mammals in the Jurassic Period evolved to glide and live in trees. With long limbs, long hand and foot fingers, and wing-like membranes for tree-to-tree gliding, Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomylos are the oldest known gliders in the long history of early mammals. […]

  • DNA from Viking cod bones suggests 1,000-year history of European fish trade
    on August 7, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    New research using DNA from the fish bone remains of Viking-era meals reveals that north Norwegians have been transporting -- and possibly trading -- Arctic cod into mainland Europe for a millennium. […]

  • First civilizations of Greece are revealing their stories to science
    on August 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    A new analysis of genome sequences from the ancient Minoans and Mycenaeans offers insight into the origins of these Bronze Age cultures. […]

  • Dinosaur-era plant found alive in North America for first time
    on July 31, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    A large species of green algae was discovered alive in North America for the first time ever, with the only previous record being fossils dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. […]

  • Malaria already endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman period
    on July 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Malaria was already widespread on Sardinia by the Roman period, long before the Middle Ages, as research on a Roman who died 2,000 years ago indicates. […]

  • New species of dinosaur named after Canadian icon
    on July 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    A new species of troodontid theropod dinosaur, Albertavenator curriei, has been identified. It is named after renowned Canadian palaeontologist Dr. Philip J. Currie. Palaeontologists initially thought that the bones of Albertavenator belonged to its close relative Troodon, which lived around 76 million years ago. This new species of troodontid in the Late Cretaceous of North America indicates that small dinosaur diversity in the latest Cretaceous of North America is likely underestimated due to the difficulty of identifying species from fragmentary fossils. […]

  • Fossil site shows impact of early Jurassic's low oxygen oceans
    on July 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Using a combination of fossils and chemical markers, scientists have tracked how a period of globally low ocean-oxygen turned an Early Jurassic marine ecosystem into a stressed community inhabited by only a few species. […]

  • Cretaceous Tanaidaceans took care of their offspring more than 105 million years ago
    on July 14, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The first evidence of parental care in Tanaidaceans has been found by scientists, dating back to more than 105 million years, according to a new study. These new findings are based on the study of three small crustaceans from different species of the Cretaceous -- Alavatanais carabe, Alavatanais margulisae and Daenerytanais maieuticus -- preserved in amber pieces from the sites in  Peñacerrada (Álava, Spain) and La Buzinie (Charente, France), reference models in the study of fossil records in amber with bioinclusions of the Mesozoic in Europe. […]

  • Ancient plankton-like microfossils span two continents
    on July 13, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Large, robust, lens-shaped microfossils from the approximately 3.4 billion-year-old Kromberg Formation of the Kaapvaal Craton in eastern South Africa are not only among the oldest elaborate microorganisms known, but are also related to other intricate microfossils of the same age found in the Pilbara Craton of Australia, according to an international team of scientists. […]

  • DNA of early Neanderthal gives timeline for new modern human-related dispersal from Africa
    on July 5, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Ancient mitochondrial DNA from the femur of an archaic European hominin is helping resolve the complicated relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals. The genetic data provides a timeline for a proposed migration out of Africa that occurred after the ancestors of Neanderthals arrived in Europe by a lineage more closely related to modern humans. […]

  • Through fossil leaves, a step towards Jurassic Park
    on July 4, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    The relationships between 200-million-year-old plants have been established for the first time, based on chemical fingerprints. Using infrared spectroscopy and statistical analysis of organic molecules in fossil leaves, they are opening up new perspectives on the dinosaur era. […]

  • Gigantic crocodile with T. rex teeth was a top land predator of the Jurassic in Madagascar
    on July 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Little is known about the origin and early evolution of the Notosuchia, hitherto unknown in the Jurassic period. New research on fossils from Madagascar begin to fill the gap in a million-year-long ghost lineage. Deep and massive jaw bones armed with enormous serrated teeth that are similar in size and shape to those of a T. rex strongly suggest that these animals fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon. […]

  • Dinosaurs' loss was frogs' gain: The upside of a mass extinction
    on July 3, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Based on earlier studies, biologists believed that the vast majority of today's frogs originated in a blossoming of new species 100 million years ago. New and more complete genetic data pinpoints this radiation much earlier: 66 million years ago at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, precisely when much of life on Earth was wiped out by a comet or asteroid. Frogs took advantage of flourishing angiosperms to escape to the treetops into many more ecological niches. […]

  • Genetic evidence from the South Caucasus region shows surprising long-term stability
    on June 29, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    The South Caucasus -- home to the countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan -- geographically links Europe and the Near East. The area has served for millennia as a major crossroads for human migration, with strong archaeological evidence for big cultural shifts over time. And yet, surprisingly, ancient mitochondrial DNA evidence finds no evidence of any upheaval over the last 8,000 years. […]

  • Genetic 'fossils' reveal long-term viral partnerships in grass
    on June 29, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Defective viruses incorporated into grass genomes may adapt to form partnerships with other genome-incorporated viruses in order to complete their life cycle, according to a new study. The findings suggest that partner viruses evolve in concert, enabling them to maintain their relationship over time. […]

  • 'Star dust' wasp is a new extinct species named after David Bowie's alter ego
    on June 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    During her study on fossil insects at China's Capitol Normal University, a student visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA, carrying two unidentified wasp specimens that were exceptionally well-preserved and 100 million years old. Close examination revealed that both were species new to science. Furthermore, one of them was found to belong to a genus of modern wasps. […]

  • Tiny fossils reveal backstory of the most mysterious amphibian alive
    on June 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    The fossils of an extinct species from the Triassic Period are the long-missing link that connects Kermit the Frog's amphibian brethren to wormlike creatures with a backbone and two rows of sharp teeth, new research shows. Named Chinlestegophis jenkinsi, the newfound fossil is the oldest relative of the most mysterious group of amphibians: caecilians. Today, these limbless, colorful serpentine carnivores live underground and range in size from 6 inches to 5 feet. […]

  • Ancient DNA reveals role of Near East and Egypt in cat domestication
    on June 19, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    DNA found at archaeological sites reveals that the origins of our domestic cat are in the Near East and ancient Egypt. Cats were domesticated by the first farmers some 10,000 years ago. They later spread across Europe and other parts of the world via trade hub Egypt. The DNA analysis also revealed that most of these ancient cats had stripes: spotted cats were uncommon until the Middle Ages. […]

  • Animal evolution: Hot start, followed by cold shock
    on June 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    The initial phases of animal evolution proceeded faster than hitherto supposed: New analyses suggest that the first animal phyla emerged in rapid succession -- prior to the global Ice Age that set in around 700 million years ago. […]

  • Brazilian carnivorous mammal-like reptile fossil may be new Aleodon species
    on June 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Some Late Triassic Brazilian fossils of mammal-like reptiles, previously identified as Chiniquodon, may in fact be the first Aleodon specimens found outside Africa. […]

  • World's oldest fossil mushroom found
    on June 7, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Roughly 115 million years ago, when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart, a mushroom fell into a river and began an improbable journey. Its ultimate fate as a mineralized fossil preserved in limestone in northeast Brazil makes it a scientific wonder, scientists report. […]

  • Homo sapiens 100,000 years earlier: Ancestors' diet of game revealed
    on June 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    New fossil finds from Morocco do more than push back the origins of our species by 100,000 years. They also reveal what was on the menu for our oldest-known Homo sapiens ancestors 300,000 years ago: Plenty of gazelle. […]

  • 3-D-modeling of food residues in 230 million years old fossil feces
    on June 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Synchrotron scanning can produce high-quality 3-D models of well-preserved food residues from fossil feces. […]

  • Which extinct ducks could fly?
    on June 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    We're all familiar with flightless birds: ostriches, emus, penguins -- and ducks? Ducks and geese have been especially prone to becoming flightless over the course of evolutionary history, but it can be difficult to determine from fossils whether an extinct species could fly or not. A new study takes a fresh approach, classifying species as flightless or not based on their skeletons and offering a glimpse into the lives of these extinct waterfowl. […]

  • Genetic study shakes up the elephant family tree
    on June 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    New research reveals that a species of giant elephant that lived 1.5 million to 100,000 years ago -- ranging across Eurasia before it went extinct -- is more closely related to today's African forest elephant than the forest elephant is to its nearest living relative, the African savanna elephant. Understanding elephant evolution is key to protecting present-day elephants from extinction, researchers say. […]

  • Japan's largest complete dinosaur skeleton discovered
    on June 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    The complete skeleton of an eight-meter-long dinosaur has been unearthed from marine deposits dating back 72 million years at Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, making it the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan. […]

  • New data for old bones: How the famous Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur bone bed came to be
    on June 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is the densest collection of Jurassic dinosaur fossils. Since its discovery in the 1920s, numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of the quarry. Were the dinosaurs poisoned? Did they die due to drought? Were they trapped in quick sand? A new study suggests that the quarry represents numerous mortality events which brought the dinosaurs to the site over time, rather than a single fatal event. […]