Drilling for Hobbit DNA

On display at Lausanne Natural History Museum ...
Image via Wikipedia

A Homo floresiensis premolar will be drilled, and DNA extracted, according to a Nature News piece passed on by Razib, John Hawks, and Dienekes. This is not the first attempt at extracting hobbit DNA, the news article explains,

“Five years ago, two teams, one from ACAD and one from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, attempted to recover DNA from another H. floresiensis tooth excavated in 2003. Both attempts failed.

Now, a team led by Christina Adler, a geneticist at ACAD, has found that standard sampling procedures could be responsible for the failure to get DNA from the hobbit and some other ancient specimens.”

I’ve been out of the loop for a couple years and have lost track on the advances made in ancient DNA studies. I do remember there was a big hub-bub regarding contamination from excavators and degradation of DNA. Maybe some of the new techniques overcomes these problems.

The lead, Adler, recently published a paper on the advances, titled, “Survival and recovery of DNA from ancient teeth and bones.” Again, I don’t have time to read it and give you a summary because I am studying for my board exams. It seems like the paper advises extracting DNA from the cementum of teeth which has way more DNA than the normal source of aDNA, dentin… But if you’re curious about ancient DNA sequencing, this should be an interesting read.

Nonetheless, it should be very interesting to see what comes from this attempt. I wish the team the best of luck and eagerly await the results.

One thought on “Drilling for Hobbit DNA

  1. Oops. I meant to indicate that I have the article. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I was going to read it – along with several other interesting articles – this weekend and write several posts (about this, an interesting paper on hydrocephaly in Africa and one on lice)but a trip to the ER and an (so far) overnight stay in the hospital has put that on hold.

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