Thursday, 5 December 2013

Discovery of oldest human DNA in Spanish cave sheds light on evolution

Check out this story that was sent in by Jorge Miarnau (1st Bachillerato Ciencias). Read it here!

The significance of this story is the extraction of the DNA from the bones of these early humans who died 400,000 years ago. Bones can tell you an awful lot about the physical structure of these early humans and also an idea of how they related to us, but analysing the DNA gives us a clearer picture as to how closely related they are. (As a reference chimpanzees have about 98% of their DNA which is common to us).

By looking at the presence of certain genes we can get an idea of how we evolved from these ancestors.

But even more significant is that they were able to extract DNA and also mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited through the maternal line) from such old material. As the researcher himself stated; " This is proof of principle that it can be done"

Proof of principle are magical words in Science, meaning that a method has been perfected and is reliable and ready for use. Because of this work many old human, animal, archaeological can now be analysed to see what secrets they reveal.

Exciting times!

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