DNA

Red junglefowl, ancestors of wild chickens, are known to mix with domestic birds.

Why Chickens Need to Stop Breeding With Their Wild Cousins

The red junglefowl is losing important genetic diversity in its native Asian habitat

An Anolis cristatellus lizard in Puerto Rico.

Genetic Mutations Could Help Lizards Survive City Life

Urban Puerto Rican crested anoles show genetic changes related to immune function, metabolism and limb and skin development

A grave with bones that were analyzed.

Ancient DNA Charts Native Americans’ Journeys to Asia Thousands of Years Ago

Analysis of ten Eurasian individuals, up to 7,500 years old, gives a new picture of movement across continents

An old Viking ship under the Northern Lights in Iceland

Ancient DNA Reveals a Genetic History of the Viking Age

Nearly 300 ancient genomes shed light on how people migrated and genes flowed in Scandinavia

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The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2022

From Omicron’s spread to a revelation made using ancient DNA, these were the biggest moments of the past year

A team led by Laurits Skov and Benjamin Peter from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sequenced nuclear, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA of 13 Neanderthal individuals. From these sequences, they determined that two of the Neanderthals represent a father-daughter pair and that another two are cousins.

Fourteen Discoveries Made About Human Evolution in 2022

Smithsonian paleoanthropologists reveal the year’s most riveting findings about our close relatives and ancestors

A replica of a Denisovan finger bone fragment. Now extinct, Denisovans were an ancient species of human that mated with ancestors of modern humans.

Denisovan DNA May Have Shaped Immune Systems in Papua New Guinea

The inherited genetic mutations might provide an advantage in fighting diseases

2 million years ago, Greenland was roughly 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is today. 

New 'Astounding' Analysis Argues That Greenland Used to Be a Lush, Diverse Ecosystem

Scientists found evidence of over 100 types of plants and animals that lived in the northern part of the island around two million years ago

Workers converting a 15th-century granary (large brown building pictured) into a parking garage in Erfurt, Germany, uncovered graves from a medieval Jewish cemetery.

How Construction of a Parking Lot Uncovered New Insights About Medieval Jews

A new DNA study suggests Ashkenazi Jews living in 14th-century Germany were surprisingly genetically diverse

The monkey's skeletal remains

1,700-Year-Old Monkey Skeleton Suggests Diplomatic Ties Between Mesoamerican Powers

Researchers believe the Maya gave the sacrificial female spider monkey to Teotihuacán as a gift years before relations soured

Scientists are testing this 15th-century letter for chemical traces of its author, Vlad Dracula, Transylvanian ruler and inspiration for the fictional count.

Document Detectives Use Smudges and Bloodstains to Investigate the Past

Proteins left behind on historic artifacts are revealing centuries-old secrets

The final facial reconstruction depicting John Barber, 55

Art Meets Science

Scientists Reconstruct Face of 19th-Century Man Accused of Being a Vampire

He was a victim of tuberculosis—and a target of the vampire panic that swept through New England

A cannibalized face dated to the 15th century B.C.E. The remains were found in Gough's Cave, the same site as some of the remains analyzed in the new study. 

Prehistoric DNA Reveals Two Groups Migrated to the U.K. After the Last Ice Age

The bones of two individuals found in caves helped scientists determine their ancestry

An image captured by a scanning electron microscope of Yersinia pestis bacteria, which causes the bubonic plague. 

Medieval Skeletons Reveal How the Bubonic Plague Influenced Human DNA

Genes passed down by survivors fended off the Black Death, but they now increase the risk of immune disorders

About one in five students has a language-based learning disability. 

Scientists Identify Genes Linked to Dyslexia

In the largest study of its kind, researchers pinpointed 42 genetic variations tied to the language-based learning disability

An illustration of a Neanderthal father and his daughter

Cool Finds

Ancient DNA Reveals the First Known Neanderthal Family

The lived with a small community in a Siberian cave some 54,000 years ago

The archaeological site at Himera in Sicily

Mercenaries Were More Common in Greek Warfare Than Ancient Historians Let on

New research finds that many soldiers who fought in the fifth-century B.C.E. battles at Himera were born outside of the empire

Svante Pääbo poses with a model of a Neanderthal skeleton after winning the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Svante Pääbo Wins Nobel Prize for Unraveling the Mysteries of Neanderthal DNA

The Swedish geneticist used 40,000-year-old bones to sequence the early humans' genome

Goods from a grave site at Issendorf cemetery in Lower-Saxony, Germany. 

DNA From Skeletons Reveals Large Migration to Early Medieval England

A new study could close a long-standing debate about movement of people post-Roman rule

Skull of a Neanderthal, or Homo neanderthalensis

What's the Difference Between a Human and Neanderthal Brain?

One small variation in DNA may have helped Homo sapiens out-compete our ancient relatives

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