Sequencing ancient DNA


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Peering into the past through DNA

Frozen carcasses, bones from ancient dumps, cereal grains stored for people long dead, desiccated corpses, skeletons - these relics of the past are fascinating and enigmatic. By studying the DNA of these organisms we can learn about their lives such as what diseases they suffered, what they ate and how they lived and died. Scientists have tried to extract DNA from these ancient sources and analyze it. Unfortunately, the DNA is usually scarce and badly damaged. This makes it difficult to sequence which is a critical step in analysis. Newer sequencing methods allowed researchers to decode 28 million basepairs of mammoth DNA. This project is a "proof of principle" for the field of paleogenomics. This field will provide information on ancient species for evolutionary studies, allowing us to better understand the relationships between organisms and the methods by which evolution occurs.

A brief overview of the project:
Metagenomics to Paleogenomics: Large-Scale Sequencing of Mammoth DNA

The Science paper describing this work.

Extinct Mammoth DNA Decoded

Can they Clone a Mammoth?

Wooly Mammoth DNA Reveals Elephant Family Tree

Sept. 2007, Mammoth Hair Sheds New Light