And that is enough for a research team led by Eske Willerslev, among others, to reconstruct the animal’s DNA using new technology.
The Danish-led research has just been published in the scientific journal Current Biology, and according to Eske Willerslev it heralds completely new times for archaeologists around the world.
– The new thing is that we can get something reminiscent of genomes, ie the entire genome, for a specific animal species directly from a soil sample, says the professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Geogenetics.
Soil samples also showed DNA from the species short-faced bear, which became extinct about 12,000 years ago.
From the samples, the researchers were able to separate the DNA of the two bears and compare them with living related species.
The new method recreates genomes from animals, plants and bacteria on the basis of microscopic DNA fragments that may have lain in the ground for thousands of years.
When an animal or a human excretes feces or urine, according to the professor, cells from the organism smoke with it. Among other things, it is fragments of DNA from these cells that the researchers can detect in soil samples.
– This means that we can do the same things with DNA from soil as we can with DNA from bones.
– Over the next five to ten years, these techniques will be further refined, and then the soil samples will replace bones, predicts Eske Willerslev.
According to the researcher, we will also benefit from the technology here at home.
For example, in excavations of settlements from the Stone Age.
There may be remnants of stone utensils that people have touched, or remnants of kitchen manure where people may have thrown some oyster shells.
– And then you can instead go out and take soil samples and reconstruct it from the ground, as you could from a tooth or a bone.
– They just need to have made a pee tear, then you have them. In that way, this is a game changer, says Eske Willerslev.
Quelle: Die nordische Seite