Thursday, 18 November 2010

Tracing human lineage through ancient DNA

It is an interest that began with the pyramids and mummies of ancient Egypt. But Professor Svante Pääbo, director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has made his name not in archaeology but by resurrecting ancient DNA.

Earlier this year, a team that he led published a draft genome of Neanderthals, our close cousins with whom we shared common ancestors within the last half-a-million years ago.

But he didn't forget Egypt and its mummies. “I knew, of course, that there were hundreds and thousands of mummies from Egypt in museums. No one seemed to have tried to isolate DNA from them. So then I started doing that.”

Read more: The Hindu

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