Cavemen Bones Yield Oldest Modern Human DNA

Posted on June 29, 2012

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What may be the oldest fragments of the modern human genome found yet have now been

Ötzi the Iceman, now housed at the South Tyrol... Ötzi the Iceman, now housed at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

revealed — DNA from the 7,000-year-old bones of two cavemen unearthed in Spain, researchers say.

These findings suggest the cavemen there were not the ancestors of the people found in the region today, investigators added.

Scientists have recently sequenced the genomes of our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans. When it came to our lineage, the oldest modern human genomes recovered yet came from Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy found in the Alps in 1991. Researchers have salvaged DNA from even older human cells, but this comes from the mitochondria that generate energy for our bodies, and not from the nucleus where our chromosomes are housed. (Mitochondrial DNA is passed down only by mothers.)

Live Science

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