Photo Credit: JEFF PACHOUD / AFP
France – Scientists said Wednesday they had unraveled the oldest DNA ever retrieved from a Homo sapiens bone, a feat that sheds light on modern humans’ colonization of the planet.
A femur found by chance on the banks of a west Siberian river in 2008 is that of a man who died around 45,000 years ago, they said.
Teased out of collagen in the ancient bone, the genome contains traces from Neanderthals — a cousin species who lived in Eurasia alongside H. sapiens before mysteriously disappearing.
Previous research has found that Neanderthals and H. sapiens interbred, leaving a tiny Neanderthal imprint of just about two percent in humans today, except for Africans.
The discovery has a bearing on the so-called “Out of Africa” scenario: the theory that H. sapiens evolved in East Africa around 200,000 years ago and then ventured out of the continent.
Initial DNA analysis of one of the 3,000-year-old elongated skulls found in Paracas, Peru, has revealed that they may not have been come from humans but from a completely new species, according to Paracas Museum assistant director Brien Foerster.
Foerster, who also runs his own tour group company in Peru and has authored 11 books on ancient history, told Ancient Origins that a geneticist who tested skull samples has found that they contain mutated DNA that does not match any known genetic DNA information in GenBank, an open-access sequence database of all the known genetic data in the world.
The unidentified geneticist told Foerster: “It had mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.”
“I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree,” the geneticist added.
Geneticist won’t come forward, for now
According to Foerster, the geneticist in question, who apparently does contract work for the US government, is willing to go public, but does not want to come forward until the tests prove the theory conclusively.
Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello discovered the skulls in 1928 in a massive graveyard in Paracas, desert peninsula in the Pisco Province on the south coast of Peru. Over 300 skulls were discovered and are some of the largest elongated skulls to have been found in the world.
Found: The secret of looking up to 40 years younger is chemical that rewinds the effects of old age and can make you look 20 again
- Harvard Medical School made the discovery
- A protein found in all living cells called NAD could be the key
- They are also exploring whether it can be used to treat rare diseases
Experts believe they may be able to turn back the clock as much as 40 years after identifying a natural compound proven to rewind the effects of old age in mice.
A protein found in all living cells called NAD could be the key to slowing down the aging process
reversing it altogether
Tests on two-year-old mice who had been given the NAD-producing compound for just one week had body tissue which resembled that of a six-month old.
Professor David Sinclair, an expert in genetics at Harvard Medical School said: ‘In human years, this would be like a 60-year-old converting to a 20-year-old in these specific areas.’
The compound works by restoring communication between energy cells within the body which have broken down as we get older.
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The hominids are depicted as degenerate and slouching because the first Neanderthal skeleton found happened to be arthritic..
1. You’re pretty much a Neanderthal. While it’s been more than 5 million years since we parted ways with chimps, it has been only 400,000 since human and Neanderthal lineages split.
2. If you’re Asian or Caucasian, your ancestors interbred with Neanderthals as recently as 37,000 years ago, when they crossed paths in Europe.
3. And that sex had benefits. Inherited Neanderthal genes come in alleles that help fight off nasty viruses such as Epstein-Barr — associated with several kinds of cancer, says Stanford University immunologist Laurent Abi-Rached.
4. If you want to know how much Neanderthal DNA you carry, just swab your cheek and send it to the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project. Or you could have your entire genome sequenced as Ozzy Osbourne did in 2010. Researchers found a telltale Neanderthal segment on his chromosome 10.
5. Now that the whole Neanderthal genome has been sequenced, Harvard geneticist George Church thinks a clone could be gestated in a human surrogate mother. It could even be beneficial, he believes, because the Neanderthal mind might be able to solve problems we can’t.
6. Practically nobody believed you could read a Neanderthal’s genes until 2010, when the paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo successfully sequenced DNA from three Neanderthal skeletons found in Croatia.
7. The first evidence of Neanderthals was discovered in 1856. Miners in Germany’s Neander Valley found fossils thought to belong to a cave bear. A local natural historian begged to differ. He reckoned the strange bones were the remains of a lost Cossack suffering from rickets.
8. Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species three years later. In the context of Darwin’s theories of evolution, the bones were re-examined by anatomist William King, who promptly named them Homo neanderthalensis, a name that provocatively (and incorrectly) suggested they were the missing link between apes and humans.
9. As late as the mid-1970s, creationists were still claiming Neanderthal fossils were the remains of modern humans with acromegaly or arthritis.
10. Paleontologist Marcellin Boule would have been well advised to study pathology. Between 1909 and 1911, he reconstructed the first skeleton of a Neanderthal — who happened to be arthritic. Thus was born the degenerate, slouching image of Neanderthals.
The knowledge of our human origins has taken a huge leap forward after anthropologists decoded the DNA of a bone as old as 400,000 years old, revealing that our ancestors may have had sex with more species of early humans than previously thought.
A bone was dug up at what appears to be an ancient burial site in Sima de los Huesos, in Spain. Its genome indicates that the early European was more closely related to a much earlier species of human dating as far back as 700,000 years ago than to our immediate ancestors, the Neanderthals. Neanderthals lived as recently as 30,000 years ago, before humankind’s modern incarnation, Homo sapiens, appeared on the scene. Homo sapiens were previously thought by scientists to have interbred with Neanderthals, but not with other hominid species.
The bone owes its good condition to the subterranean climate in the northern highland area of Sierra de Atapuerca. The find was at a depth of about 30 meters, where the temperature is a little more than 10 degrees Celsius.
Svante Paabo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, was one of the key participants in the research, which was published in the journal Nature. He points out that the results extracted from the study of the bone “show that we can now study DNA from human ancestors that are hundreds of thousands of years old.”
That is a substantial achievement in itself, as such old DNA had until now only been studied when found in permafrost – mountain soil that is frozen over and allowing for preservation of bones and flesh, like the ones we often find when conducting animal studies.
But the technique does little to reduce the mystery the anthropologists are faced with now.
Scientists have found the oldest DNA evidence yet of humans’ biological history. But instead of neatly clarifying human evolution, the finding is adding new mysteries.
In a paper in the journal Nature, scientists reported Wednesday that they had retrieved ancient human DNA from a fossil dating back about 400,000 years, shattering the previous record of 100,000 years.
The fossil, a thigh bone found in Spain, had previously seemed to many experts to belong to a forerunner of Neanderthals. But its DNA tells a very different story. It most closely resembles DNA from an enigmatic lineage of humans known as Denisovans. Until now, Denisovans were known only from DNA retrieved from 80,000-year-old remains in Siberia, 4,000 miles east of where the new DNA was found.
The mismatch between the anatomical and genetic evidence surprised the scientists, who are now rethinking human evolution over the past few hundred thousand years. It is possible, for example, that there are many extinct human populations that scientists have yet to discover. They might have interbred, swapping DNA. Scientists hope that further studies of extremely ancient human DNA will clarify the mystery.
“Right now, we’ve basically generated a big question mark,” said Matthias Meyer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a co-author of the new study.
Hints at new hidden complexities in the human story came from a 400,000-year-old femur found in a cave in Spain called Sima de los Huesos (“the pit of bones” in Spanish). The scientific team used new methods to extract the ancient DNA from the fossil.
“This would not have been possible even a year ago,” said Juan Luis Arsuaga, a paleoanthropologist at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a co-author of the paper.
Finding such ancient human DNA was a major advance, said David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. “That’s an amazing, game-changing thing,” he said.
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Any Volunteers? No?
A scientist claims to have enough DNA to start cloning a neanderthal baby and is now looking for “an adventurous woman” to give birth to a neanderthal baby.
- Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA
- His ambitious plan requires a human volunteer willing to allow the DNA to be put into stem cells, then a human embryo
They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.
So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?
Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.
Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.
His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.
He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.
He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human.
‘It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.’
Professor Church’s plan would begin by artificially creating Neanderthal DNA based on genetic code found in fossil remains. He would put this DNA into stem cells.
These would be injected into cells from a human embryo in the early stages of life.
It is thought that the stem cells would steer the development of the hybrid embryo on Neanderthal lines, rather than human ones.
Oldest human genome reveals roots of first Americans – New Scientist
http://news.google.com Wed, 20 Nov 2013 18:02:22 GMT
Design & TrendOldest human genome reveals roots of first AmericansNew ScientistA 24,000-year-old boy from Siberia is helping redraw the Native American family tree. He is the oldest human to have his genome sequenced, and the results suggest that the …
A 24,000-year-old boy from Siberia is helping redraw the Native American family tree. He is the oldest human to have his genome sequenced, and the results suggest that the first people to colonise the Americas were not simply east Asians. Instead, those early settlers had both western Eurasian and east Asian roots.
The first Americans probably arrived from north-east Asia via a land bridge, around 15,000 years ago. Confusion arose because Native Americans have DNA that resembles that of people in east Asia, but no modern contemporary population exactly fits, says Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
Plus Native Americans carry some DNA characteristic of modern Europeans, which has led some researchers to suggest that America was first colonised from Europe, not Asia.
Read more …
Ancient humans interbred with Neanderthals, Denisovans and a mystery species that may have originated in Africa and migrated to Asia, paleontologists said this week.
Improved genome sequencing from two extinct human relatives suggests the forerunners to modern humans intermingled with one another more extensively than was previously known.
Ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented Monday at the Royal Society in London, where researchers said they’d found evidence to suggest rampant interbreeding among members of ancient human-like groups more than 30,000 years ago in Europe and Asia – including an unknown human ancestor.
“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” said Mark Thomas, evolutionary geneticist at University College London.
Previous Neanderthal and Denisovan genome sequences showed the two groups had interbred with anatomically modern humans, contributing to the genetic diversity of modern humans, and revolutionized the study of ancient human history.
But those genome sequences were of low quality and full of gaps and errors.
A team led by David Reich, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said they’d produced genome sequences that matched the quality of modern human genomes.
All humans whose ancestry originates outside Africa have about 2 percent Neanderthal genomes, and some Oceanic humans, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, have about 4 percent of their DNA from interbreeding between their human ancestors and Denisovans, whose remains were found in a cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains.
Researchers said the Denisovans interbred with Neanderthals and humans who lived in China, East Asia and Oceania.