DNA Found In Soil Samples Pinpoints Neanderthal Existence

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After an exhausted archaeological expedition, covering two continents and spanning seven sites, geneticist Viviane Slon and her team collected seven samples which they believed would lead to a new discovery on the existence of prehistoric mammals.

What she and her team discovered rocked the anthropological and scientific world as nine of the samples from four of the sites produced enough DNA, in locations where no bones, teeth or other indications of man or mammal had previously existed, to test for mammalian existence.

The team, sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, tested the soil samples for genetic evidence from a dozen mammalian families including extinct species such as the wooly mammoth, the wooly rhinoceros, and the cave hyena.

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Slon and her team moved on these sites as the existence of prehistoric man, hominins, had been determined through DNA discovered in the cave soil samples.  

The shocking evidence came when the samples were tested. The team found the existence of Neanderthals, and in one site in Russia they found DNA from a Denisovan, the Asian cousin of Neanderthals.

The team also explained further studies were needed to build on the findings to include exactness of unique, singular, findings or groups and the relation of the location to the hominins and mammals.

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The exact science of DNA may be common and the intricacies of DNA still remain an unknown for nonexperts. DNA cells of humans contain an abundance of mitochondrial DNA. The team narrowed the search to short sequences of DNA chains, and the smallest common denominator which could produce the possibility of man, and added the known variable of chemical damage, which was common in prehistoric man, to avoid any confusion.

Slon, who is currently pursuing her Doctorate, has published the findings in the journal Science.

"It is almost beyond comment that it's exciting stuff," said Robin Allaby, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Warwick, responding to the study. "We have all been limited by the number of article remains we can get at and this has the potential to release us from those constrains." [Seeker].

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