April 7, 2020
by CBC News
Scientists have extracted from dental enamel the oldest human genetic material ever obtained, helping clarify the pivotal place in the human evolutionary lineage of a mysterious extinct species called Homo antecessor known from Spanish cave fossils.
The researchers said they obtained genetic material from an 800,000-year-old Homo antecessor molar unearthed near the village of Atapuerca in northern Spain and from a 1.77 million-year-old molar of another extinct human species called Homo erectus found near the town of Dmanisi in Georgia.
They retrieved the ancient proteins from fossilized teeth using a method called palaeoproteomics that can find genetic material in fossils too old to contain DNA because of its chemical degradation over time.
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