Ancient skeleton’s DNA window into earliest modern human group

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The skeleton of a man who lived more than 2300 years ago and foraged food from the ocean off southern Africa belonged to an ancient group of modern humans now presumed extinct, an Australian-led study has found.

When archaeologists discovered the complete skeleton in St Helena Bay in 2010, they feared the region’s acidic soils would have destroyed its DNA.

But an international team led by Sydney geneticist Vanessa Hayes was able to generate a complete mitochondrial genome of the man, using material extracted from a tooth and a rib.

Mitochondrial DNA contains information passed from mother to child, and from this the team learned that the man was a member of the earliest ethnic group of humans to diverge from the maternal common ancestor all humans share.

Professor Hayes, an expert in African genomes, said everyone living on Earth today shared a common maternal ancestor, an ancestral “Mitochondrial Eve”, who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

“From Eve, this [individual] comes from the earliest branch, which diverged around 150,000 to 170,000 years ago,” said Professor Hayes, the head of the Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

The discovery will likely reignite debate about the region in Africa where the first modern humans arose.

Read full original story: Skeleton of man from ancient group of humans found in South Africa

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
sperm swim

Video: Sperm are ‘spinners not swimmers’—because they are lopsided

Research by fertility scientists in the UK and Mexico challenges the accepted view of how sperm “swim”, suggesting that it ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend