• Susanne Hummel


The major work that occurred in scientific research in the field of ancient and degraded DNA in the 1980s laid the groundwork for today’s investigations. In the very beginning of that decade, a group of Chinese researchers from the Hunan Medical School proved that DNA is preserved in the tissues of ancient bodies (1980) (Fig. 1.1). Just 1 year later, Anderson and his colleagues published the fully sequenced human mitochondrial genome (1981). The next year, microsatellite DNA, socalled short tandem repeats (STR), was discovered by Hamada and colleagues (1982); it was later recognized that these enable a fingerprinting similar to DNA typing. A crucial event for ancient DNA research was the invention of the polymerase chain reaction, which enables the amplification of DNA into highly sensitive and simple assays better than any other molecular technique (Saiki et al. 1985; Mullis and Faloona 1987). Around the same time, western researchers from very different fields also published their first results on the extraction of DNA from preserved tissues. Higuchi et al. (1984) succeeded in the extraction of DNA from quagga, an extinct member of the horse family (Fig. 1.2), and Johnson et al. (1985) investigated the DNA they had extracted from mammoth remains.


Short Tandem Repeat Skeletal Remains Yersinia Pestis Short Tandem Repeat Marker Mass Disaster 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Hummel
    • 1
  1. 1.Historische Anthropologie und Humanökologie, Institut für Zoologie und AnthropologieGeorg August Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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