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Science: World's oldest DNA discovered in tooth of 8,00,000-year-old cannibal


   

    The DNA was discovered by a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with researchers from the National Research Centre on Human Evolution.

Scientists claim they have extracted the world's oldest DNA, or human genetic material, from the enamel in the tooth of an 8,00,000-year-old-cannibal.

The DNA was discovered by a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with researchers from the National Research Centre on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, and other institutions, according to reports.
   

   
The findings of the research were recently published in the journal Nature, where the researchers said the discovery will now help in clarifying the place of the mysterious extinct species called the Homo antecessor in the human evolutionary lineage.

The tooth from where the DNA was extracted was originally found in Spain back in 1994, reported LiveScience. At that time, a group of archaeologists found fossilised remains of humans. Their bones were reportedly cut and fractured, appearing to have been cannibalised.

The researchers detailed the use of paleoproteomics, a method that involves the study of ancient proteins, to know more about the human race's genetic past.  According to the research, paleoproteomics reveal details about our genetic past in ways that DNA tests cannot. The reason being proteins can survive in fossilised substances for millions of years.
   

   
"Ancient protein analysis provides evidence for a close relationship between Homo antecessor, us (Homo sapiens), Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Our results support the idea that Homo antecessor was a sister group to the group containing Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans," said Frido Welker, the first author of the research paper. Welker is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen.

   

    The co-author, José María Bermúdez de Castro, said he is happy that the protein study provided evidence that the Homo antecessor may have been closely related to the last common ancestor of Home sapiens and Neanderthals.

"The features shared by Homo antecessor with these hominins clearly appeared much earlier than previously thought," said Bermudez.

Before this discovery, the oldest genetic material extracted from an extinct human species was dated to about 4,20,000 years ago. Timesnownews

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