Editor's Note: This article summary by Ethan N. ('18) explains new developments on human genomes.
This article is about how DNA technology has advanced tremendously in the past couple of decades. Just 20 years ago, DNA technology was nearly non-existent, finding even a sliver of DNA from a human fossil would cause for a great celebration. But scientists have made great advances in DNA-sequencing technology, and have found new strategies for gene hunting. Instead of looking for DNA in main parts of human fossil, they have discovered that ear bones are densely packed with DNA. Scientist also believed that it was impossible to find DNA in fossils in hotter climates because the heat broke down the DNA so quickly over centuries that there would be nothing left. But in 2015, scientist discovered the first human genome from Africa that dated back 4,500 years ago. I think story is very interesting because it give us a better understanding of how just decades ago there was no way to find human genome in fossils, meaning it was much harder to understand why that specific human fossil was there. Having technological advances has made it easier find out what time period the person was alive in, and understand why the fossil was found where it is. Archeologist and scientist have been able to use this information to understand the movements of certain groups of people and decipher people’s roots. An example for this would be, at Harvard University they underwent the largest study of DNA by extracting more than 170 skeletons from Europe. They used this DNA to understand how long ago these fossils were there for and what they were doing there. They discovered that the first hunter-gathers arrived 45,000 years ago in Europe, who later became farmers 8,000 years ago, and later became nomadic sheepherders 4,500 years ago, and have become modern Europeans. It’s amazing to see what extracting DNA can do in discovering the history of a people and their culture. I think this scientific discovery is important because knowing where we come from and how we got here is essential in learning to be better and not making the same mistakes how ancestors made. Being able to extract DNA from ancient fossils allows us to make history clearer. It allows us to make connections between people and prove theories right or wrong. By using this newfound technology, it influences everything that we may know about how history. It allows us to make certain that history is right, and if something is off we can prove it wrong and make new theories. I truly think this is revolutionary in the world of science in discovering who we are as humans and am excited to see what is to come with this newly found discovery.
Citation: Zimmer, C. (2015, December 27). Secrets of the Ancients in DNA. Retrieved January 6, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/28/science/2015-top-science-stories.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0 Zimmer, C. (2015, June 15). DNA Deciphers Roots of Modern Europeans. Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/science/dna-deciphers-roots-of-modern-europeans.html