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.

  • New ancestor of modern sea turtles found in Alabama
    on April 18, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    A sea turtle discovered in Alabama is a new species from the Late Cretaceous epoch, according to a new study. […]

  • Marine fish won an evolutionary lottery 66 million years ago
    on April 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Why do the Earth's oceans contain such a staggering diversity of fish of so many different sizes, shapes, colors and ecologies? The answer, biologists report, dates back 66 million years ago, when a six-mile-wide asteroid crashed to Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and approximately 75 percent of animal and plant species worldwide. […]

  • Sweet potato history casts doubt on early contact between Polynesia and the Americas
    on April 12, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    New evidence shows that sweet potatoes arose before there were any humans around to eat them. The findings also suggest that the sweet potato crossed the ocean from America to Polynesia without any help from people. The discovery raises doubts about the existence of pre-Columbian contacts between Polynesia and the American continent. […]

  • How life generates new forms
    on April 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    A new study identifies the kind of gene regulation most likely to generate evolutionary change. […]

  • Fossil study sheds light on ancient butterfly wing colors
    on April 11, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Pioneering new research has given an illuminating new insight into the metallic, iridescent colors found on the earliest known ancestors of moths and butterflies, which inhabited the Earth almost 200 million years ago. […]

  • New driver of extinction: Adaptations for sexual selection
    on April 11, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    By analyzing thousands of fossilized ancient crustaceans, a team of scientists found that devoting a lot of energy to the competition for mates may compromise species' resilience to change and increase their risk of extinction. […]

  • Most primitive kangaroo ancestor rediscovered after 30 years in obscurity
    on April 11, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    A handful of tiny teeth have led scientists to identify the most distant ancestor of today's kangaroos. The fossils were found in the desert heart of Australia, and then hidden away, and almost forgotten in a museum collection for over three decades. […]

  • Prehistoric reptile pregnant with octuplets
    on April 5, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Palaeontologists have discovered part of the skeleton of a 180-million-year-old pregnant ichthyosaur with the remains of between six and eight tiny embryos between its ribs. […]

  • Ancient origins of viruses discovered
    on April 4, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    New research has found that many of the viruses infecting us today have ancient evolutionary histories that date back to the first vertebrates and perhaps the first animals in existence. […]

  • Inner ear provides clues to human dispersal
    on April 3, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Slight differences can be found in the inner ear of different populations of modern humans. Paleoanthropologists have found that these differences can provide information about the global dispersal of humans from Africa. […]

  • Extinct monitor lizard had four eyes, fossil evidence shows
    on April 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Researchers have evidence that an extinct species of monitor lizard had four eyes, a first among known jawed vertebrates. Today, only the jawless lampreys have four eyes. […]

  • Breakthrough in determining ages of different microbial groups
    on April 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Scientists have made a significant breakthrough in how we understand the first three-quarters of life on Earth by creating new techniques for investigating the timing and co-evolution of microbial groups. […]

  • Decade of fossil collecting gives new perspective on Triassic period, emergence of dinosaurs
    on March 28, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    A project spanning countries, years and institutions has attempted to reconstruct what the southern end of the world looked like during the Triassic period, 252 to 199 million years ago. […]

  • Secrets of famous Neanderthal skeleton La Ferrassie 1 revealed
    on March 27, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Anthropologists have provided new insights on one of the most famous Neanderthal skeletons, discovered over 100 years ago: La Ferrassie 1. […]

  • Crystallography used to analyze fossils and assign them to microscopic organisms
    on March 26, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Blue-green algae are one of the oldest organisms in the world and have an important role to play in many ecosystems on Earth. However, it has always been difficult to identify fossils as blue-green algae without any trace of doubt. The reason is their unremarkable sheath made of calcium carbonate. A master's student has now developed a method which can help assign organisms to a particular species. […]

  • Mysterious skeleton shows molecular complexity of bone diseases
    on March 22, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    A bizarre human skeleton, once rumored to have extraterrestrial origins, has gotten a rather comprehensive genomic work-up, the results of which are now in. […]

  • Short-faced bears, largest carnivores in the Ice Age, became omnivores to survive
    on March 22, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Based on the analysis of fossil teeth, a study shows that short-faced bears (Arctodus simus), the largest carnivores in the Ice Age, became omnivores to survive. […]

  • Genomes of five late Neandertals provide insights into Neandertal population history
    on March 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Researchers have sequenced the genomes of five Neandertals that lived between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago. These late Neandertals are all more closely related to the Neandertals that contributed DNA to modern human ancestors than an older Neandertal from the Altai Mountains that was previously sequenced. Their genomes also provide evidence for a turnover in the Neandertal population towards the end of Neandertal history. […]

  • The curse of zombie fossils
    on March 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    New research has revealed how the history of life can be distorted by the ways animals decompose and lose body parts as they decay -- and the ways in which decayed bodies ultimately become fossilized. […]

  • Scientists discover genomic ancestry of Stone Age North Africans from Morocco
    on March 15, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    An international team of researchers have sequenced DNA from individuals from Morocco dating to approximately 15,000 years ago. This is the oldest nuclear DNA from Africa ever successfully analyzed. The study shows that the individuals, dating to the Late Stone Age, had a genetic heritage that was in part similar to ancient Levantine Natufians and an uncharacterized sub-Saharan African lineage to which modern West Africans are genetically closest. […]

  • Modern humans interbred with Denisovans twice in history
    on March 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Modern humans co-existed and interbred not only with Neanderthals, but also with another species of archaic humans, the mysterious Denisovans. Research now describes how, while developing a new genome-analysis method for comparing whole genomes between modern human and Denisovan populations, researchers unexpectedly discovered two distinct episodes of Denisovan genetic intermixing, or admixing, between the two. This suggests a more diverse genetic history than previously thought between the Denisovans and modern humans. […]

  • 60-year-old paleontological mystery of a 'phantom' dicynodont
    on March 14, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    A new study has re-discovered fossil collections from a 19th century hermit that validate 'phantom' fossil footprints collected in the 1950s showing dicynodonts coexisting with dinosaurs. […]

  • Are palaeontologists naming too many species?
    on March 14, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    A comprehensive new study looking at variations in Ichthyosaurus, a common British Jurassic ichthyosaur (sea-going reptile) also known as 'Sea Dragons', has provided important information into recognizing new fossil species. […]

  • The early bird got to fly: Archaeopteryx was an active flyer
    on March 13, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    The question of whether the Late Jurassic dino-bird Archaeopteryx was an elaborately feathered ground dweller, a glider, or an active flyer has fascinated palaeontologists for decades. Valuable new information obtained with state-of-the-art synchrotron microtomography allowed an international team of scientists to answer this question. […]

  • Digging up the Precambrian: Fossil burrows show early origins of animal behavior
    on March 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Researchers discover penetrative trace fossils from the late Ediacaran of western Mongolia, revealing earlier onset of the “agronomic revolution”. […]

  • Genetic timeline of early Pacific settlers
    on March 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Researchers have helped put together the most comprehensive study ever conducted into the origins of people in Vanuatu -- regarded as a geographic gateway from Asia to the Remote Pacific. […]

  • 127-million-year-old baby bird fossil sheds light on avian evolution
    on March 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    The tiny fossil of a prehistoric baby bird is helping scientists understand how early avians came into the world in the Age of Dinosaurs. The fossil, which dates back to the Mesozoic Era (250-65 million years ago), is a chick from a group of prehistoric birds called, Enantiornithes. Made up of a nearly complete skeleton, the specimen is amongst the smallest known Mesozoic avian fossils ever discovered. […]

  • Flipside of a dinosaur mystery: 'Bloat-and-float' explains belly-up ankylosaur fossils
    on February 28, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Why are fossil remains of ankylosaurs -- armored 'tanks of the Cretaceaous' -- usually found belly-up? A paleontologist proposes the explanation is 'bloat-and-float', where the dead dinos would float downstream, bloat, flip upside down, and be fossilized that way. […]

  • Nicotine extracted from ancient dental plaque for the first time
    on February 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    A team of scientists has shown for the first time that nicotine residue can be extracted from dental plaque on the teeth of ancient tobacco users. Their research provides a new method for determining who was consuming tobacco in the ancient world and could help trace the use of tobacco and other intoxicating plants further back into prehistory. […]

  • Ancient DNA reveals genetic replacement despite language continuity in the South Pacific
    on February 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    New genetic research reveals the complex demographic history of Vanuatu, explaining how Austronesian languages were retained throughout its history despite near-total replacement of early Austronesian-Lapita with Papuan ancestry. […]