The Leipzig team of genetic scientists has announced that it was able to completely decode the genome of an extinct species of humans, the Denisova, using DNA extracted from a single 10-milligram bone fragment of a 50,000-year-old skeleton. The skeleton was found in Southern Siberia in 2010, and came from a previously unknown human species. The Denisovans, along with the Neanderthals, are the most closely related extinct relatives to modern-day humans.
Svante Pääbo and the Leipzig team of genetic researchers were able to decode the genome using a new sequencing method, which they are so far being highly secretive about.
“The genome is of very high quality,” says Matthias Meyer, who developed the techniques that made this technical feat possible. “We cover all non-repetitive DNA sequences in the Denisovan genome so many times that it has fewer errors than most genomes from present-day humans that have been determined to date,”
Should you be the kind of person who enjoys perusing human genome sequences for fun, you can find the entire results of the team’s studies online. The scientists plan to write and release a research paper on their findings by the end of this year, but in the meantime decided to make the research public so that other scientists can benefit from in. The genetic information unlocked from the skeleton could eventually reveal additional information about ancient human migration patterns, disease, and evolution.
Who knows? If science can do this, maybe a dinosaur clone isn’t so far off after all.
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