A variety of factors has fueled the recent popularity of ancient DNA analysis. One is the fact that most people are more familiar with databases that fall under the broader banner of public genetic databases, like that maintained by the Human Genome Project (HGP). Unfortunately, however, public genetic databases fall short of being comprehensive in terms of ancient DNA analysis. In particular, many analyses of old DNA fall short in determining human origins. For example, the study of Y-chromosome DNA is very well known and well-publicized, but the study of other ancient DNA has mainly remained elusive. This is primarily because no previous studies have compared ancient DNA from individuals living today with samples from individuals who lived thousands of years ago.
Despite the lack of specific comparisons between samples of ancient DNA with those of living people, some analyses of ancient DNA with other molecular and microbial clues have been performed. These efforts have yielded results suggesting that the DNA of modern humans is derived from an early branch of the African genus Eutherians. The exact relationship of this genus to modern humans has been the subject of intense debate since the early days of archaeology. Analysis of ancient DNA with other molecular and microbial clues has been used to delve even further into the relationships between modern humans and their distant relatives. Here are some examples.
Some studies of ancient DNA analysis have compared modern DNA from distant relatives with samples from fromagers, another group of ancient humans whose ancestors lived in Africa. It has been estimated that there is slight genetic variation between this group and the modern population, further supporting the idea that they interbred. Similarly, analyses of ancient DNA with other molecular and microbial clues have compared the composition of bacteria and other tiny microbes from fossils with those of living people. It has been calculated that the percentage of sequences that come from modern humans and their distant relatives, such asagers, is higher than those that come from other archaic hominids.
Using ancient DNA analysis to study African American ancestry Although much controversy surrounds the origin of human beings, there are several examples where ancient DNA analysis has helped solve problems about human origins and migration. One example is the DNA of a man who lived in East Asia but is most likely either European or Native American. The woman’s grandfather was Asia-related, but there is no indication of his Asian heritage in her maternal grandmother. He was thus most likely of European origin, although he probably did not carry the evidence of his nationality. Using molecular analysis, the scientist was then able to conclude that the woman’s grandfather was native American in origin.
Ancient DNA analysis can also be used to study the maternal history of individuals. DNA from old teeth can tell us about possible migration events in the past. Analysis of various DNA fragments from ancient teeth and roots can also help determine the relationships between people. Forensic scientists use these analyses to assess the relationship of crime victims to their alleged killers using genetic data.
Analyzes of ancient DNA can be used to study modern diseases. For example, old human bones and teeth have been used to analyse multiple illnesses. Samples from dental implants have also yielded interesting results concerning the history of the disease and its origins. In addition, the molecular analysis of ancient DNA can help solve problems about the genealogy of illness, mainly when sample material cannot be found in sufficient quantity in archaeological digs. It also provides valuable data about population demographics, allowing researchers to trace the routes of migration events in the past.