Genetics has dramatically changed the fields of archeology and anthropology. What next?

We are in the midst of an an ancient-genomics boom. In the past year, researchers have unveiled the two oldest genomes on record: those of a horse that had been buried in Canadian permafrost for around 700,000 years, and of a roughly 400,000-year-old human relative from a Spanish cavern. A Neanderthal sequence every bit as complete and accurate as a contemporary human genome has been released, as has the genome of a Siberian child connecting Native Americans to Europeans.

Enabling this rush are technological improvements in isolating, sequencing and interpreting the time-ravaged DNA strands in ancient remains such as bones, teeth and hair. Pioneers are obtaining DNA from ever older and more degraded remains, and gleaning insight about long-dead humans and other creatures. And now ancient DNA is set to move from the clean-rooms of specialists to the labs of archaeologists, population geneticists and others. Nature looks to the field’s future.

Read the full, original story: Human evolution: The Neanderthal in the family

 

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