Science News

A thigh bone gives the oldest human DNA

The discovery of DNA in a 400,000 year old human thigh bone will open up a new frontier into the study of our ancestors. This verdict was cast by human evolution experts in the science journal, Nature.

The femur comes from the well known “Pit of Bones” site in Spain. This site gave the remains of at least 28 ancient people. Although to actually access the pit (called Sima de Los Huesos in Spanish) they had to crawl for hundreds of meters through narrow tunnels. The bodies were probably deposited their deliberately but their cause of death is unknown.

DNA’s tendency to break down over time has meant that it’s not been possible to undertake this kind of research into genetics of ancient members of the human family. The advancement in DNA sequencing technology has also allowed this to be possible. Just a few years ago scientists said that it wouldn’t be possible to study DNA older than 60,000 years old.

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