Friday, June 03, 2005

Sequencing Neanderthal DNA?

This is Way Cool

Two cave bears which died in Austria more than 40,000 years ago have had their nuclear DNA sequenced. The technique used to recover sequences from a tooth and a bone has more than doubled the record for the age of successfully recovered nuclear DNA - and Neanderthals could be next.

Recovering genetic material from ancient remains is fraught with difficulty because DNA degrades rapidly and is easily contaminated with external DNA, for example, by people handling the fossil. Most successful studies have focused on the more abundant mitochondrial DNA, but it is much less informative. In exceptional cases it has been possible to extract nuclear DNA from less than 20,000 years ago, preserved in permafrost or desert environments.

Follow the link for details.