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New Methods For Getting DNA From Bone




This won't apply to really old stuff but I suppose it's a start...

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4260334.stm

 Improved technologies for extracting genetic material from fossils
 may help us find out more about our ancient ancestors.

 Scientists in Israel have just developed a new technique to retrieve
 better quality, less contaminated DNA from very old remains,
 including human bones.
 ...
 But fossil studies this far back in time have long been hindered by
 contamination with foreign genetic material and the problem of
 recovering long, intact DNA sequences.

 The new method provides hope, however.
 ...
 An improved technique for retrieving DNA from fossil bone, just
 published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of
 Sciences (PNAS), may help.

 Dr Michal Salamon, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot,
 Israel, and colleagues, showed that "crystal aggregates", small mineral
 pockets formed during fossilisation, can preserve DNA better than the
 rest of the bone.

 They compared DNA extracted from these crystal aggregates with genetic
 material taken from untreated, whole-bone powder. The samples were taken
 from eight different modern and fossil bones.

 They found better preserved, less contaminated DNA could be recovered
 from the isolated crystals.

 This approach, "significantly improves the chances of obtaining authentic
 ancient DNA sequences, especially from human bones", they told PNAS.
 ...