Friday, August 06, 2021

palaeo beyond genomics

I've been covering the very exciting progress in ancient DNA studies for nearly 20 years now, and I'm not complaining, but, in order to persuade editors that they should publish even more of my ravings, I need to introduce new elements every once in a while. So it was rather handy that recent developments in palaeoanthropology have featured a few things that were molecular but not based on the genomes retrieved from ancient people's bones, including proteomes read from tooth proteins (which may allow us to travel a lot further back in time), microbiomes, and DNA from dirt with absolutely no trace of fossil remains.

And the Neanderthal teeth used in the dental microbiome study come from the cave of Sima de las palomas (near Murcia), where I've also been scraping around in the dirt for a while, a few years before the site started coughing up some very impressive Neanderthal skeletons.

Looking at it from an analytics perspective for a chemically minded audience, I've discussed these developments in my latest feature for Chemistry & Industry, which is out now:

Chemistry & Industry Volume 85, Issue 7/8, July-August 2021 Pages 23-26

access via:

Wiley Online Library (paywalled)

SCI - appears to be on open access right now

Lateral view of the mostly-complete skull of Zlatý kůň, which cannot be carbon-dated but has now been identified as the earliest modern human from Europe, based on recent admixture of Neanderthal ancestry.
Credit: Martin Frouz

Oh, and Blogspot tells me that this is my 1999th published post. So let's party like it's 1999, and watch out for the millennium bug!

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