Apr 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

Scientists Extract DNA Of Extinct Human Species From Sediments Without Skeletal Remains

Apr 30, 2017 11:13 PM EDT

File photo of archaeologists.
(Photo : Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Even in the absence of bones and skeletal remains, scientists can extract the DNA of extinct hominids. The rock sediments are teeming with DNA of extinct human species and it is possible to retrieve these DNAs. To date, there are seven archeological sites which yield specimens.

It is very rare to find skeletal remains of extinct humans. However, the new procedure may be employed to gather DNA in sites where only artifacts were found. This scientific breakthrough may help to detect which species of extinct humans occupied a certain cave.

Lead researcher Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said that sediments can bind DNAs. When extinct human occupied a cave, the hominid DNA can be extracted, according to Science Daily. The initial DNA samples were taken from seven archaeological locations in Belgium, France, Spain, Croatia, and Russia.

Remarkably, the team gathered the extinct human's DNAs from the timeline that dates back some 14,000 to 55,000 years ago. The team then processed the genetic materials from the mitochondria. The latter is known as a powerhouse storage of biological cells. Interestingly, even those sediments which were forgotten and stored for years can still produce DNA traces.

The specimens yield DNAs from extinct animals such as the wooly mammoth, cave bear, cave hyena, and wooly rhinoceros. However, the research team is particularly looking for DNAs of extinct humans, said a BBC report. Meyer and his team concluded that the mammalian DNAs overshadowed those of ancient hominids. Even so, there is a possibility to detect small traces of DNA.

Luckily, the team stumbled upon DNAs of Neanderthals and Denisovans from a cave in Russia. This approach of targeted sampling was achieved even in the absence of physical specimens like extinct human's bones or skeletal remains. The team aims to recover a substantial specimen of extinct human genomes in the future instead of plain "traces." They also hope that the procedure is going to be a standard procedure in future archeological discoveries.

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