DNA

DNA analysis of a lock of hair taken from Sitting Bull confirms that a South Dakota man is the Lakota leader's great-grandson.

New Research

DNA Analysis Confirms Claim of Sitting Bull Descendant

Formerly in the Smithsonian collections, a lock of hair taken from the Lakota leader verifies South Dakota man is his great-grandson

The naturally mummified remains were remarkably well preserved, with some still sporting clothing and hair.

Cool Finds

New Research Reveals Surprising Origins of Millennia-Old Mummies Found in China

Once thought to be migrants from West Asia, the deceased were actually direct descendants of a local Ice Age population, DNA analysis suggests

The modern horse overtook other equine lineages as it spread across Europe and Asia thousands of years ago.

Genetic Sequencing Pinpoints the Origins of the Domestic Horse

One lineage in southwestern Russia gave rise to all modern domestic horses, from sleek thoroughbreds to heavy-built Clydesdales

Now named a new species, Wallace's sphinx moth (top) of Madagascar displays its world's longest tongue next Morgan's sphinx moth, which is found on the African mainland.

With a Nearly Foot-Long Proboscis, This New Moth Species Holds Record for Longest Insect Tongue

DNA testing shows island moth from Madagascar is distinctly different from similar varieties found on the African mainland

Scientists used DNA analysis of mummies from ancient Egypt to reconstruct the faces of three men buried more than 2,000 years ago.

Art Meets Science

3-D Reconstruction Reveals the Faces of Three Ancient Egyptian Mummies

Researchers used a combination of DNA and physical analysis to approximate the trio's visages

Early Etruscans had advanced knowledge of art, farming and metallurgy, leading some historians to believe the civilization originated elsewhere before settling in what is now Italy. DNA analysis shows they were actually locals.

New Research

Where Did the Ancient Etruscans Come From?

A new DNA analysis suggests the enigmatic civilization was native to the Italian Peninsula

Umeno Sumiyama (left) and Koume Kodama (right) with their official certificates

107-Year-Old Japanese Sisters Are the World's Oldest Identical Twins

Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama were born on the island of Shodoshima on November 5, 1913

Approximately 71 percent of modern Japanese people's ancestry comes from the newly identified Kofun period population.

New Research

DNA Analysis Rewrites Ancient History of Japan

A new study suggests the island's modern populations trace their ancestry to three distinct groups, not two as previously proposed

Resurrecting the Sublime recreates the scent of Hibiscadelphus wilderianus, which went extinct in 1912.

What Do These Extinct Plants Smell Like?

A multidisciplinary collaboration resurrects three types of flora lost due to 20th-century colonialism

Grizzly bears in coastal British Columbia are more closely linked to Indigenous groups than previously realized.

Grizzly Bear Territories in Canada Match Maps of Indigenous Language Families

DNA analysis shows a distinct relationship between three distinct groups of grizzlies and Indigenous populations with different languages

Male acorn woodpeckers, like the one on the left, have more offspring over their lives when they’re polygamous, according to new research.

Smithsonian Voices

Polygamy Helps Male Acorn Woodpeckers Thrive

The findings of a new study could help scientists learn more about how social behaviors evolved in other animals

The study's authors argue that the individual may have been highly regarded due to their nonbinary status or “because they already had a distinctive or secured position in the community for other reasons; for example, by belonging to a relatively wealthy and well-connected family.”

New Research

Mysterious Iron Age Burial May Hold Remains of Elite Nonbinary Person

The Finnish grave's occupant likely had Klinefelter syndrome, meaning they were born with an extra copy of the X chromosome

A new article suggests that cats have been underutilized in studies of genetic disease and that studying their genomes, which are structured similarly to humans', could yield new treatments.

New Research

Human Genomes Are Surprisingly Cat-Like

Cat genomes are more similar to ours than those of mice and dogs, yet researchers say felines are underutilized in genetic studies of disease

From the air samples, the research team was able to identify 17 species of animals that lived within the zoo enclosures or roamed around it, such as deer and hedgehogs. Pictured here is a binturong (Arctictis binturong) and was one of the mammals detected using this method.

Researchers Vacuum DNA From the Air to See What Animals Are Near

The method may help scientists survey animals in various ecosystems to inform conservation efforts

This is the 93-year-old Xerces blue butterfly specimen that researchers collected tissue samples from for this study.

New Research

This Butterfly Is the First U.S. Insect to Be Wiped Out by Humans

Genetic tests using museum specimens suggest that the Xerces blue was a distinct species and that it disappeared in 1941

DNA from the skin of this mummified sheep leg allowed researchers to study sheep husbandry practices in ancient Iran.

Researchers Recover DNA From 1,600-Year-Old, Naturally Mummified Sheep Leg

The molecules offer insights on ancient farming practices near the Chehrabad salt mine in Iran

Cher Ami, April 1918–June 1919

Smithsonian Voices

Solving a 100-Year-Old Mystery About the Brave Pigeon Cher Ami

Science determines the most famous pigeon in World War I history was not a female, but a cock bird

The Maple Fire photographed burning up Jefferson Ridge in Olympic National Forest, Washington. In court documents, prosecutors alleged that men convicted of illegal logging in the National Forest may have started the Maple Fire.

Innovation for Good

For the First Time, Tree DNA Was Used to Convict Lumber Thieves in Federal Investigation

Genetic evidence showed that two men illegally chopped down and sold valuable bigleaf maple trees inside Olympic National Forest

Presumed self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1512, red chalk on paper

Art Meets Science

Historians Identify 14 Living Relatives of Leonardo da Vinci

An ongoing effort to trace the artist's male lineage may help researchers sequence his genome

Chris Meyer, a marine invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, dives around French Polynesia with equipment used to track coral reef health.

Future of Conservation

Meet the Reef Expert Collecting Environmental Time Capsules

Collecting DNA in waters worldwide can help scientists figure out which places are the most important for conservation

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