DNA Testing On Fossils
DNA testing on fossils helps scientists find out more about our ancient ancestors. Anybody who has seen Jurassic Park may be suspicious about scientists doing DNA testing on fossils. DNA is the code to life, and so it’s no surprise that it inspired authors to imagine what would happen if DNA testing lead to the resurrection of extinct species.
But DNA testing on fossils serves an important purposes for researchers and scientists. The results can reveal extraordinary clues to the evolution and migration of early humans and DNA testing is becoming more and more sophisticated. In Israel scientists developed new techniques for DNA testing by retrieving better quality, less contaminated DNA from old remains.
DNA Testing and Contaminated DNA
The Holy Grail for many researchers specialising in DNA testing is to acquire DNA samples from hominids – the species humans evolved from over 100,000 years ago. DNA testing would reveal how they were related to us today which has not yet been established as DNA breaks up and is contaminated over time. DNA testing can be difficult on fossils, as the ancient and fragile DNA can be contaminated by the person finding the specimen.
The ideal condition in which to find a fossil is frozen in ice, which naturally preserves DNA intact making it ideal for DNA testing. 400,000-year-old plants were discovered in the ice in Siberia, and a 40,000-year-old cave bear’s DNA has been decoded by evolutionary anthropology scientists.
Improved DNA Testing On Neanderthals
Improved techniques in retrieving ancient DNA have aided the evolution of DNA testing and DNA testing on fossils and remains has helped scientists map human movement and evolution. Scientists have about ten Neanderthal samples on which they have performed DNA testing and this has revealed DNA unlike anyone’s alive today.
After hominids, man’s predecessors, the Neanderthals evolved 250,000 years ago in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. From there, modern humans left Africa 60,000 years ago and arrived in Europe 40,000 years ago. Neanderthals became extinct 27,000 years ago – perhaps a result of evolution with modern humans as the climate of earth changed. We are by fascinated by life's big mysteries, such as where we come from, and DNA testing along with the study of DNA in fossils and in the remains of our predecessors can help us understand how modern humans got where we are today.
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