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Mud DNA means we can detect ancient humans even without fossils

We have an astonishing new way to study our early human ancestors: looking for their DNA in ancient sediments in places such as caves. A team of researchers has found the DNA of Neanderthals and Denisovans in some of the sites where they are known to have lived. “I think we show convincingly that these sequences are authentic,” says lead author Viviane Slon of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. The approach can now be used to find out whether early humans were present even when no bones have been found – and what kind of humans they were. It might also help resolve the debate about when the Americas were first inhabited by people, for instance.

Read More: New Scientist

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