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ancient DNA

This tag is associated with 9 posts

What an ancient Paleoindian girl tells us about Native American prehistory

    More than 12,000 years ago, a young teenage girl walking through a deep cave (known today as Hoyo Negro) fell down a massive pit. The fall fractured her pelvis, and she died among the remains of giant ground sloths and saber-toothed cats who had met a similar fate. Over the next few millennia, … Continue reading

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Problematic science journalism: Native American ancestry and the Solutrean hypothesis

This is the second post in a series discussing the recent publication of a 12,500 year old genome from Montana. You can find the first post here. In the weeks following the publication of the complete genome from a Clovis child, there’s been a lot of press coverage of this study and its possible implications. … Continue reading

The oldest North American genome and what it tells us about the peopling of the Americas

Last Wednesday, Dr. Morton Rasmussen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and his colleagues announced that they had completely sequenced the genome of an infant boy, buried ~12,600 years ago in Montana. A few weeks earlier, I’d been approached by an editor at Nature, who asked me if I and my mentor Deborah Bolnick … Continue reading

Nature publication

I haven’t been writing as much here recently, because I’ve been working on a “News and Views” article for Nature….and now I can finally talk about it! Here’s a link to my article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/506162a.html, and to the paper that it’s discussing: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13025.html. In the next few days I’ll post something here to discuss the main … Continue reading

How to tell if an ancient DNA study is legitimate

It seems that every week there are exciting new findings from ancient DNA research.  This is wonderful news, because we’re learning incredible things about the relationship between humans and Neandertals, the prehistory of ancient populations, and even previously unknown hominins.  But on the flip side, we’re also seeing news reports of extremely questionable results, and … Continue reading

A 24,000 year old genome from Siberia!

Maanasa Raghavan and colleagues published the complete sequence of the oldest (thus far) modern human genome in Nature today (“Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans”).

The mystery of the 900 year old “flesh-joined twins”: an example of the scientific method at work

In 1941, an archaeologist named Glenn Black excavated a site called Angel Mounds just east of Evansville Indiana. Angel Mounds (AD1050-1400) belonged to the Mississippian culture, which was found throughout the Midwest and Southeast in the centuries just prior to European contact. When excavating a region of the site dense in children’s graves, Black uncovered … Continue reading

Science papers for non-scientists: Where do Europeans come from?

Reading and understanding scientific literature can be incredibly frustrating for most people. You may want to understand some cutting-edge finding, but find you can’t wade through the technical jargon and obtuse figures, so you give up and read some crappy summary in the news. This doesn’t mean you’re not smart! I’m want to assure you … Continue reading

Doing archaeology with DNA

Imagine you’re an archaeologist. (I know you wanted to be one when you were younger, so let’s pretend you never got sidetracked) You’re digging at a cool site somewhere and you find two completely different types of pottery*. The older type is black with a swirly design and was the only pottery used at this … Continue reading

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Jennifer Raff

Jennifer Raff

In pursuit of the extraordinary

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