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.

  • '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. […]

  • The first genome data from ancient Egyptian mummies
    on May 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    An international team has successfully recovered ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BCE to 400 CE, including the first genome-wide nuclear data, establishing ancient Egyptian mummies as a reliable of ancient DNA. The study found that modern Egyptians share more ancestry with Sub-Saharan Africans than ancient Egyptians did. […]

  • How dinosaurs may have evolved into birds
    on May 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    A possible genetic mechanism underlying the evolution of birds has been discovered by scientists. Studies of dinosaur fossils that show bird-like traits, such as feathers, light bones, air sacs and three-digit forelimbs, clarified evolutionary kinship of birds and dinosaurs. However, identifying genomic DNA changes during this evolutionary transition has remained a challenge. […]

  • Genomics tracks migration from lost empires to modern cities
    on May 28, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    New genomic tools are enabling researchers to overturn long-held beliefs about the origins of populations. Until recently, assumptions about origins were based on where people were buried, but this does not take into account the migrations that scientists now know took place thousands of years ago. […]

  • New species of bus-sized fossil marine reptile unearthed in Russia
    on May 25, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    A new species of a fossil pliosaur (large predatory marine reptile from the 'age of dinosaur') has been found in Russia and profoundly change how we understand the evolution of the group, says an international team of scientists. […]

  • Ancient DNA evidence shows hunter-gatherers and farmers were intimately linked
    on May 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    In human history, the transition from hunting and gathering to farming is a significant one. As such, hunter-gatherers and farmers are usually thought about as two entirely different sets of people. But researchers reporting new ancient DNA evidence show that in the area we now recognize as Romania, at least, hunter-gatherers and farmers were living side by side, intermixing with each other, and having children. […]

  • Fossil beetles suggest that LA climate has been relatively stable for 50,000 years
    on May 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Research based on more than 180 fossil insects preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits of Los Angeles indicate that the climate in what is now southern California has been relatively stable over the past 50,000 years. […]

  • Rare tooth find reveals horned dinosaurs in eastern North America
    on May 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    A chance discovery in Mississippi provides the first evidence of an animal closely related to Triceratops in eastern North America. The fossil, a tooth from rocks between 68 and 66 million years old, shows that two halves of the continent previously thought to be separated by seaway were probably connected before the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. […]

  • How RNA formed at the origins of life
    on May 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    A single process for how a group of molecules called nucleotides were made on the early Earth, before life began, has been suggested by a team of researchers. […]

  • Oldest buckthorn fossilized flowers found in Argentina
    on May 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Around 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, a giant asteroid crashed into the present-day Gulf of Mexico, leading to the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. How plants were affected is less understood, but fossil records show that ferns were the first plants to recover many thousands of years afterward. Now, a team reports the discovery of the first fossilized flowers from South America, and perhaps the entire Southern Hemisphere, following the extinction event. […]

  • Oldest evidence of life on land found in 3.48 billion-year-old Australian rocks
    on May 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Fossils discovered in ancient hot spring deposits in the Pilbara have pushed back by 580 million years the earliest known evidence for microbial life on land. […]

  • South African cave yields yet more fossils of a newfound relative
    on May 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Probing deeper into the South African cave system known as Rising Star, which last year yielded the largest cache of hominin fossils known to science, an international team of researchers has discovered another chamber with more remains of a newfound human relative, Homo naledi. The discovery of the new fossils representing the remains of at least 3 juvenile and adult specimens includes a 'wonderfully complete skull,' says an anthropologist. […]

  • Homo naledi's surprisingly young age opens up more questions on where we come from
    on May 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Scientists today announced that the Rising Star Cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. […]

  • Primitive hominid lived alongside modern humans
    on May 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Scientists have discovered that primitive hominids lived in Africa at the same time as humans -- the first time this has been established. […]

  • Archaeogeneticist pinpoints Indian population origins using today's populace
    on May 8, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Researchers identifies the origins of Indian populations comprising migrating humans from Africa, Iran and Central Asia over a period of 50,000 years. […]

  • What silver fir aDNA can tell us about Neolithic forests
    on May 8, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    A new technique makes it possible to cost-effectively analyse genetic material from fossil plant and animal remains. Researchers have used this technique to examine the DNA of silver fir needles found in lake sediment in Ticino. They found clues as to how forests reacted to the emergence of agriculture. […]

  • Oldest orchid fossil on record identified
    on May 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    A newly published study documents evidence of an orchid fossil trapped in Baltic amber that dates back some 45 million years to 55 million years ago, shattering the previous record for an orchid fossil found in Dominican amber some 20-30 million years old. […]

  • 'Last African dinosaur' discovered in Moroccan mine
    on May 4, 2017 at 1:35 am

    One of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before their extinction 66 million years ago has been discovered in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco. A study of the fossil suggests that following the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana in the middle of the Cretaceous period, a distinct dinosaur fauna evolved in Africa. […]

  • New light shed on 'world's oldest animal fossils'
    on May 4, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Ancient fossils, thought to be some of the world's earliest examples of animal remains, could in fact belong to other groups such as algae, scientists suggest. […]