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The thermal history of human fossils and the likelihood of successful DNA amplification

Smith, C.I., Chamberlain, A.T., Riley, M.S., Stringer, C. and Collins, M.J. (2003) The thermal history of human fossils and the likelihood of successful DNA amplification. Journal of Human Evolution, 45 (3). pp. 203-217. ISSN 0047-2484

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Recent success in the amplification of ancient DNA (aDNA) from fossil humans has led to calls for further tests to be carried out on similar material. However, there has been little systematic research on the survival of DNA in the fossil record, even though the environment of the fossil is known to be of paramount importance for the survival of biomolecules over archaeological and geological timescales. A better understanding of aDNA survival would enable research to focus on material with greater chances of successful amplification, thus preventing the unnecessary loss of material and valuable researcher time. We argue that the thermal history of a fossil is a key parameter for the survival of biomolecules. The thermal history of a number of northwest European Neanderthal cave sites is reconstructed here and they are ranked in terms of the relative likelihood of aDNA survival at the sites, under the assumption that DNA depurination is the principal mechanism of degradation. The claims of aDNA amplification from material found at Lake Mungo, Australia, are also considered in the light of the thermal history of this site.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2003 Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: ancient DNA, Neanderthal, modern humans, Lake Mungo, thermal history
Institution: The University of Sheffield, The University of York
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Archaeology (Sheffield)
The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Matthew J. Collins
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2005
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2009 11:20
Published Version: http://dx.doi/org/10.1016/S0047-2484(03)00106-4
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1016/S0047-2484(03)00106-4
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/840

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