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DNA Testing – Ancient Specimen Rewrites Native American History


DNA testing is constantly throwing up surprises in the scientific, medical and historical fields and a recent DNA test on fossilised faeces may have dramatically rewritten the beliefs of how the Americas were first populated. According to a report in the Independent, the results of DNA testing on ancient fossilised faeces are causing a stir in the scientific community as it is believed that it predates the earliest know settlement of man by 1200 years. The sample, which was found in Oregon, USA, was shown after the DNA testing to be considerably older than DNA found from the Clovis people who live 14,300 years ago and were thought to be the oldest prehistoric example of the population of the Americas.

DNA Testing – An Important Discovery

According to the report in the Independent, the discovery that this fossilised faeces predates the hitherto believed oldest civilisation of the Clovis people by over a millennium is proving a tantalising breakthrough. The DNA testing carried out on the sample found that there were much earlier cultures living along the West coast of North America when the continent was still in the midst of an ice age. Speaking to the Independent, Dr Eske Willerslev, the director of the Centre for Ancient Genetics at the University of Copenhagen, stated, “The Paisley cave material represents, to the best of my knowledge, the oldest human DNA obtained from the Americas. Other pre-Clovis sites have been claimed, but no human DNA has been obtained, mostly because no human organic material had been recovered.” This goes to show the importance of DNA testing when it comes to advancing our knowledge of the ancient world.

DNA Testing – An Intricate Process

The DNA testing that led to this surprising discovery was carried out on human DNA extracted from coprolites (fossilised faeces) and with the use of carbon dating was able to uncover that it was over a thousand years older than spearheads belonging to the Clovis people. The DNA testing was able to establish that the fossilised remains contained two sets of genetic sequences that are shared with modern day Native Americans and people native to East Asia; which confirmed the notion that the first Americans came across the Bering Land Bridge during the last Ice Age. DNA testing has, once again, made an important scientific discovery and one that gives a new understanding of our history.

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