The complex ethics of human history

Readers are advised that this article contains images of ancient human remains. At the end of this century’s first decade, no ancient human genome had been sequenced in full. Now, there are over 6,000 complete genomes in the archives, and more are added to the list every week. Since it became clear that DNA could … Continue reading The complex ethics of human history

Toasting a big week for ancient gastronomy

Blue cheese, beer and wine – it’s the hipster’s smorgasbord, but it turns out humans have been chowing down on these delicacies for a very long time. New research, published today in Current Biology, shows that preserved human poo – otherwise known as coprolites – in an Iron Age salt mine in Hallstatt, Austria contained … Continue reading Toasting a big week for ancient gastronomy

Can we really extract ancient DNA from dinosaurs?

From million-year-old dinosaur remains to ‘resurrecting’ mammoths, stories in the news about ancient DNA make it seem as though Jurassic Park is just around the corner. But ancient DNA is also an important tool for viewing the past. The only problem is that it’s not quite as abundant or easy to use as some think. … Continue reading Can we really extract ancient DNA from dinosaurs?

Celebrating a decade of ancient human DNA

Just over a decade ago, a ball of 4000-year-old human hair tangled up in a whalebone comb ignited the first ever reconstruction of the ancient human genome. Since then, our understanding of ancient human DNA has exploded. Despite being discovered in the 1980s, the technology to sequence DNA from the hair wasn’t available until 2012, … Continue reading Celebrating a decade of ancient human DNA

Tightening the dragnet on Denisovans

Researchers have identified some prime suspects in the biggest ‘who done it’ mystery in human evolution: who were the Denisovans? In a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, a team – led by population geneticist João Teixeira at the University of Adelaide in Australia – has attempted to nail down the identity of these … Continue reading Tightening the dragnet on Denisovans

Early humans were promiscuous

Turns out that our ancient ancestors weren’t exactly shy when it came to trying new things. A new analysis has revealed that as the ancestors of modern humans (homo sapiens) moved out of Africa and across Eurasia, they would try get it on with just about anyone they came across. In fact, genetic analysis has … Continue reading Early humans were promiscuous