Scientists recover an ancient woman’s DNA from a 20,000-year-old pendant
An international research team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has for the first time successfully isolated ancient human DNA from a Paleolithic artefact: a pierced deer tooth discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia. To preserve the integrity of the artefact, they developed a new, nondestructive method for isolating DNA from ancient bones and teeth. From the DNA retrieved they were able to reconstruct a precise genetic profile of the woman who used or wore the pendant, as well as of the deer from which the tooth was taken. Genetic dates obtained for the DNA from both the woman and the deer show that the pendant was made between 19,000 and 25,000 years ago. The tooth remains fully intact after analysis, providing testimony to a new era in ancient DNA research, in which it may become possible to directly identify the users of ornaments and tools produced in the deep past (Nature, 03 May 2023).
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