Viking DNA retrieved from 1,000-year-old skeletons

May 28th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 28 (IANS) Scientists have extracted authentic DNA from ancient Viking skeletons, deftly skirting around many of the problems past researchers faced in preserving their purity. Wearing protective suits, researchers removed the teeth from the jaw at the precise moment the skeletons were unearthed on the Danish island of Funen, where they had lain untouched for 1,000 years.

The drill demonstrated for the first time how DNA from ancient humans could be retrieved without contamination. They also stringently controlled lab procedures to preserve the purity of their samples.

Analysis of DNA from the remains of ancient humans provides valuable insights into important questions like the origin of genetic diseases, migration patterns of our forefathers and tribal and family patterns.

Unfortunately, severe problems bearing on retrieval and analysis of DNA samples arise in case of ancient humans.

Analysis of the Viking DNA showed no evidence of contamination with extraneous DNA, and typing of the endogenous DNA gave reproducible results and showed that these individuals were just as diverse as contemporary humans.

A reliable retrieval of authentic DNA opens the way for a valuable use of prehistoric human remains to illuminate the genetic history of past and extant populations.

The study, conducted by Jorgen Dissing and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, has been published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

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