Bringing Stone Age genomic material back to life

Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 14:32 in Paleontology & Archaeology

For the first time, molecules dating to the Stone Age have been revived in the lab. This breakthrough was made possible only after scientists achieved another first — they successfully reconstructed the genomes of ancient microorganisms up to 100,000 years old, said Christina Warinner, associate professor of anthropology at Harvard and a senior author on the new study. “That’s 90,000 years older than the next nearest reconstructed genome.” Warinner, who is also a group leader with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, worked with an interdisciplinary team of researchers to achieve this feat. The group’s findings and genome-reconstruction techniques are outlined in a paper published Thursday in Science. An expert in biomolecular archaeology, Warinner has pioneered the study of ancient tooth tartar, the only part of the human body that fossilizes during life. A form of calcified dental plaque, tartar contains the same minerals as the human skeleton, with similar survival potential...

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