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  • Sampling of the deceased

    Does anyone know whether there are projects underway, or what the obstacles would be for projects to sample the deceased to obtain their DNA types? I hear that it is difficult because of decomposition, but I also hear about it being done in isolated cases. I hear about the mummies being sampled but do not hear about the results. When I see a map that purports to separate S21 some to the Rhine delta others to Romania I become curious. Is this the effect of migration or a long term population in either area? Theories abound as to the origins of the various haplogroups, but I remain skeptical as long as we are simply testing folks alive today. Anyone out there know?

  • #2
    DNA from the dead

    Originally posted by Deirwha
    Does anyone know whether there are projects underway, or what the obstacles would be for projects to sample the deceased to obtain their DNA types? I hear that it is difficult because of decomposition, but I also hear about it being done in isolated cases. I hear about the mummies being sampled but do not hear about the results. When I see a map that purports to separate S21 some to the Rhine delta others to Romania I become curious. Is this the effect of migration or a long term population in either area? Theories abound as to the origins of the various haplogroups, but I remain skeptical as long as we are simply testing folks alive today. Anyone out there know?
    Without claiming any particular authority, I have been following the literature of such cases.
    Only the MtDNA appears to have been durable enough to be recoverable usually.

    The first notable one was Atkins' sampling of a (varnish-preserved) 8000 ybp bone and finding several living Cheddar, UK, local people with the same MtDNA modal.

    "Oetzi" the Iceman has a now extinct subclade of Mt "K".

    The Welsh Paviland burial, a 30 year old male in red ochre, now dated at 27,000 ybp is reported as having the European commonest "H" MtDNA.
    As you know Neanderthal MtDNA has been examined several times, and several mediaeval cemeteries are currently being sampled.

    Egyptian mummies have been disappointing; it is believed that the mummification process neutralizes the DNA.
    More details anyone?

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    • #3
      The title of this thread led me to believe I was going to get barbecue sauce recipes as recorded by the Donner Party.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Stevo
        The title of this thread led me to believe I was going to get barbecue sauce recipes as recorded by the Donner Party.

        That was a good one.


        Okay, this is my last unwarranted digession for a week: I promise you.

        While visiting a client a couple years back, I interviewed a departmental director, who was surnamed Donner.

        I thought I was being cute when I asked whether she was related to the Donners of Donner party fame. No, but her husband was. And she recounted his genealogy with a specificity that led me to believe that this was not a glib, off-the-cuff response, but that the claim has some validity.

        Although she had a good sense of humour about it, it did cause me to think twice, and I swore off the cannibalism and human atrocity jokes. For a couple of weeks anyhow.

        There was a Gaelic nickname frequent in some branches of the family I claim descent from: "Garbh", pronounced "garv" or "garoo", depending on dialect. It literally means coarse or crude, but I wonder if it may more specifically refer to their sense of humour.

        And that's my last digression for a week.

        Jack

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        • #5
          Uhhhh Huhhhh

          Digression is good for the indigestion, Hannibal.

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          • #6
            I think 60,000 years was the max mtdna survival time mentioned in that mastodon/cloning article.

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            • #7
              An interesting point

              So mt DNA should be available up to 60,000 years? Then I would wonder aloud that there has not been more systematic testing of mt DNA as a part of all archaeological digs where bodies are found.

              Or if there has been systematic testing of mt DNA whether a vehicle could not be found for keeping us all informed. On another post I mentioned a journal as one approach. Another interesting approach is followed by an organization called AskMoses.com with respect to Orthodox Judaism. They have at their website a fair amount of written material if you are trying to understand Orthodox Judaism. But if you get stuck, they have an on line chat room with a Rabbi to help you through the issue. It takes only seconds to get an authoritative answer.

              I would like a place to go where I could learn whether or not there is a consensus theory out there, for instance, on whether the s21 hotspots are the result of the spread of La Tene culture or the subsequent migration of the Saline (sp?) Franks or anything else. I would like to know of what this evidence consists ... ie circumstantial, direct, or indirect. How much evidence? Have the conclusions been peer reviewed? The answers to these questions are all a part of really understanding what the evidence supports and does not support.

              It will do no one on the forum any good for me to blah blah my pet theories on the subject of from whence came my ancestors. What you want to know and what I want to know is what evidence is out there and how has it been weighed by authoritative bodies. Are the conclusion contained in data which is accessible and subject to verification? It is truly lovely that feeling I get in the pit of my tummy looking at the National Geo arrows showing the migration of the groups, but the more I learn the less comfortable I am with the evidence supporting the conclusions. Hence the obsession with testing of remains in identified strata association with archaeologically confirmed sites.

              It seems to me that a part of what we paid for, however insufficient may have been what we paid, was the interpretation of what our results mean, not merely the availability of data from which we match to other people with like data and like confusion as to what it means. This is not a complaint, mind you. I am very happy with the service provided by FT DNA and National Geo.

              I know DKF and others have tried to bring balance to these discussions, and whether or not one can criticize bedside manner, I am happy that they have made the effort. So, in that spirit, if I am getting this all wrong, please tell me, but I am getting the distinct impression that the evidence that is out there is not enough to support the great theories propounded in the past in the name of that evidence, or a number of the more sweeping theories I have seen on this forum. If that impression is correct I think it would be invaluable for those of us who are investing a substantial amount of money collectively to support this testing to be provided greater authoritative feedback on what the evidence does support and does not support as that evidence is developed, and also what gaps need to be closed and what funding is required to close them.
              Last edited by Deirwha; 1 December 2008, 05:57 PM. Reason: duplicate word

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              • #8
                There has been a certain amount of testing of ancient bones, and I think excavation are often more careful now in that respect. But my understanding is that things are not as easy as these posts make them seem. First, the bones must have rested in a particular environment (for instance, acidic soil destroys dna, I think one needs a relatively alkaline environment). And then contamination can be a big issue. This is why in more recent exacavations the actual excavators as well as anybody who analyzes or comes in contact with the bones are also tested for mtdna, to make sure that there is no obvious contamination.

                Another point is that often one can only read few bases, not the whole thing, which, together with the high error rate, may make it difficult to assign haplogroups with precision.

                The earliest human dna analysed I heard of was about 22K years ago (I believe) from southern Italy, one was some type of N* and another was HV (or R0). (I haven't seen the Welsh Paviland burial piece - this would contrast with more recent papers that put H's age at a somewhat more recent period...)

                cacio

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                • #9
                  Thanks.

                  I know that the technical issues with ancient DNA are very high. I do think an attempt should be a part of what is today considered professional practice in forensic anthropology. Easy for me to say. I don't have to fund it. I don't have to deal with the folks who say, "these are our ancestors. Do not disturb." I also don't have to deal with the political implications, especially in the Near East.

                  While I understand and appreciate the enormity of the difficulties, I continue to express my concern about the validity of conclusions not tied to forensic anthropology. Yes, the STR exam, the deep clade SNP, the mtDNA and when I get it the FGS will all be very helpful in matching me up with other people and I will learn, scientists will learn (since I am part of the T project), and that is good. But as the administrator for my clade is fond of saying, he no longer talks of haplogroups in terms of German v. Celt or is all that confident of anyone's theory of origin for the clade, including his own.

                  I guess once again I am drawn back to the wish that whether as an adjunct to this Forum or some other password protected spot or a magazine like Biblical Archaeological Review or Scientific American or the New England Journal of Medicine, or on an interactive website like GoaskMoses.com, there was a vehicle for us to keep up with the latest on the limits of discovery ... as I expressed in a previous post, small i information and small r research. I just am having difficulty sorting out the inferences from the facts in evidence. It is every lawyer's nightmare.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by derinos
                    ...More details anyone?
                    Not every excavation yields human remains, not all archaeologists are interested in DNA, and none have the funds to perform ALL the lab analyses they would like to perform.

                    There has been some recent success in extracting mtDNA from hair - keratin provides an impermeable coating.

                    Current practice calls for exhumation by gloved and masked excavators, the specimens sealed immediately in plastic bags and sent directly to the lab.

                    Other recent success I am aware of are sequencing of Hopewellian remains, extraction of DNA from "chewing gum", coprolites, menstrual blood-soaked aprons, and the discovery of hgM among ancient Americans.

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                    • #11
                      Many of the published papers have been discussed in this or similar forums. But often it is hard to find old posts. Perhaps one way would be to make sure to include some useful keywords useful in future searches, eg like ancient DNA or the like.

                      I had prepared a list of ancient Italian DNA I could find. I'll post them in the following entry.

                      cacio

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                      • #12
                        Ancient Italian DNA

                        Caramelli 2008: Paglicci -23. 28K yrs ago
                        HVR1 CRS (no coding region analysis).
                        So it seems that there were CRS's around long ago in the area, whether
                        HV, H or similar.

                        Paglicci cave (Gargano - Apulia - Italy) 24K years ago:
                        Caramelli et al 2003. Tested HVR1 (ie 16024-16384) plus specific
                        locations:
                        Paglicci-25: HVR1 CRS, +7,025 AluI, 00073A, 11719G, and 12308A: HV or
                        pre-HV
                        Paglicci-12: HVR1 16223T. 00073G, 10873C, 10238T, and AACC between
                        nucleotide positions 10397 and 10400: N*

                        Ladin valleys of NE Alps.
                        Di Benedetto et al. Tested HVR1
                        Mezzocorona (8.5K yrs): 16126, 16292, 16294: T
                        Villabruna (6.4K yrs) : 16261, 16274: H (?)
                        Borgo Nuovo 6K yrs): CRS: H

                        Otzi (S. Tyrol):
                        Rollo et al. 2006. 5.2K yrs old.
                        HVR1: 16224C, 16311C, plus coding region mutations to put him in
                        K1*(ie x a,b,c)

                        Petrarca (Tuscany)
                        Caramelli et al. 2007. Died 1374
                        HVR1: 16126, 16193, 16311: J1
                        Head of woman found in Petrarca's grave
                        HVR1: 16129: H*

                        Etruscans
                        Vernesi et al (2004)
                        27 HVR1, various mutations. Around 13 are H, others possibly J/T,
                        others difficult to assign. This paper is very controversial.

                        cacio

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                        • #13
                          Red Lady, (or Prince) of Paviland

                          For cacio; hope this will be of some use. They do not specify haplogrup "H" Mtdna in this paper, but I believe I read that elswhere. Prof Brian Sykes was the operant. Link follows:


                          the Red Lady of [email protected]

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                          • #14
                            Thank you

                            fascinating. Must look into the Ladin Valley. The T looks familiar.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the links. Interesting, I wonder whether they tested for H or just for selected HVR1. If it's CRS HVR1, it wouldn't necessary mean H, it's the same as Paglicci. Though it would further give a potential indication that some type of HV /R0 was in Europe this early, in contrast to some new ideas about H being younger and late-palaeolithic in Europe.

                              Plus, was Sykes the same as the one about the Cheddar man publicity stunt? Or the Gengis Khan presumed C descendant (who was actually R1a)?

                              cacio

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