Thursday, September 13, 2012

50,000 year old revival

My little boy was wondering recently about how the experiments to recreate a dinosaur out of modern chicken/ostrich  eggs was going.   I am not sure about that experiment, but another "revival" experiment has been a resounding success:  recovering the complete dna sequence from a little girl who died  50,000 years ago.

Genome Brings Ancient Girl to Life
Ann Gibbons - Science Now- Wired Magazine, 31 August 2012 (hat tip: NC)

In a stunning technical feat, an international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of an archaic Siberian girl 31 times over, using a new method that amplifies single strands of DNA. The sequencing is so complete that researchers have as sharp a picture of this ancient genome as they would of a living person’s, revealing, for example that the girl had brown eyes, hair, and skin. “No one thought we would have an archaic human genome of such quality,” says Matthias Meyer, a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “Everyone was shocked by the counts. That includes me.”...
Ironically, this high-resolution genome means that the Denisovans, who are represented in the fossil record by only one tiny finger bone and two teeth, are much better known genetically than any other ancient human — including Neandertals, of which there are hundreds of specimens. The team confirms that the Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of some living humans and found that Denisovans had little genetic diversity, suggesting that their small population waned further as populations of modern humans expanded.

The Denisovans are close relatives of the Neanderthals, there are differences from modern humans.  But 3% of the genomes of the people of Papua New Guinea come from Denisovans, so to a degree they still live on.

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