Ancient Dna Essay

1038 words - 5 pages

Ostelogical analysis is a very important process in understand our past. There are so many things that bones could tell us; the range of knowledge is great, we can determine where the remains came from their approximate age, their sex, their diet and even their death. There are so many different kinds of analysis that can be done from using ancient DNA to analyzing Stable Isotopes. Analysis of Ancient DNA hold an important key to solving the mystery of history. Using ancient DNA connections of kinship and sex can be determined.
To understand how ancient DNA can lead to kinship one must first understand DNA. DNA is the essence of life. It determines everything about who we are from what our ...view middle of the document...

(Cox/Mays, 2000).

Ancient DNA can come from either mitochondrial or Chromosomal DNA. The problem with ancient DNA is that breaks down after time. So when archeologist want to analysis it, it is broken in to pieces. In order to fix this problem the DNA has to be amplified. This is done by using DNA polymerase. This binds to the DNA fragments and starts to replicate the samples.
Where do we find the samples of DNA? DNA can be found in every cell of the body, however since the body decays after death DNA is destroyed during the dying process. In skeletal remains archeologist can extract DNA from bones and teeth. The best source for DNA is in the teeth’s dentin. Because of the enamel of the teeth dentin is less like to deteriorate. Now not all bones or teeth will have DNA left in them.
If archeologist are lucky enough to find the DNA it doesn’t mean they will be successful in using it. There are many issues that can arise from ancient DNA. First, since ancient DNA is fragmented it has to be amplified. During the amplification process DNA polymerase is used to bind to the fragments and replicate the sequence. There are cases were the DNA polymerase do not bind to the fragments thru making it impossible to study the DNA sequence.
Another problem that arises with using Ancient DNA is that of contamination. Contamination can occur from any point between excavations to the laboratory. The more handling by humans the greater risk in contamination. What is contamination? Contamination occurs when modern DNA comes in contact with the specimen. If the specimen is contaminated than when the DNA polymerase is applied the modern DNA will be more abundant that that of the ancient DNA.
There are steps put in place in order to prevent contamination from occurring, or at least lessen the occurrence of contamination. First during the excavation the specimens that man contain DNA are handed with great care and as little human contact as possible. In the laboratory scientist use sterile technique in order to prevent contamination. They also run blank...

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