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Year in review: Old humans reveal secrets

DNA analyses rewrite stories of ancient times

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8:00am, December 17, 2014
37,000-year-old skeleton

WRITTEN IN BONE  DNA from a 37,000-year-old skeleton found at the Kostenki archaeological site in Russia supports recent findings and offers new ones about the history of human evolution.

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Scientists probed the complete genetic secrets of an unprecedented number of ancient humans this year, revealing insights into how people, ideas and disease spread around the world.

Researchers have gotten so good at working with ancient scraps of DNA that, this fall, they unveiled the entire genetic makeup of a man who lived in Siberia near Ust’-Ishim about 45,000 years ago (SN: 11/29/14, p. 8).

The ancient Siberian’s bones are the oldest modern human remains found outside Africa. Two weeks after the details of Ust’-Ishim man’s genome were reported, other scientists revealed DNA from a more than 36,000-year-old skeleton,

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