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Hunt for ancient human molecules (Amazing Story!)
BBC ^ | Published: 2004/02/16 22:21:33 GMT | By Richard Black

Posted on 02/16/2004 4:34:29 PM PST by vannrox

Hunt for ancient human molecules

By Richard Black


BBC science correspondent in Seattle


New technologies may soon allow scientists to identify some of the genes of humankind's oldest ancestors.

This raises the possibility of plotting the evolutionary tree of humanity from five million years ago to the present.

Professor Hendrik Poinar says DNA fragments should be recoverable from fossils that are a million years old, and proteins from even older times.

His comments came at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Seattle.

Professor Poinar, from McMaster University in Canada, said the key was to find fossils preserved so well that samples had not been degraded.

DNA, the biomolecule in cells that carries the "code of life", starts to fall apart rapidly under unfavourable conditions.

Proteins, on the other hand, which build and maintain the body and are constructed from information in the DNA, are more robust.

Beyond theory

The oldest protein from a fossil analysed so far was extracted from a bison (

Bison priscus

) which died 55,000 years ago.

The animal died in Siberia, where the intense cold acted like a natural deep freeze.

A team led by Christina Nielsen-Marsh, of Newcastle University, UK, extracted and identified samples of a bone protein called osteocalcin.

But Professor Poinar, who works out of McMaster's department of anthropology, believes we can go back substantially further.

"DNA, for example; in theory it should survive for about 100,000 years," he told BBC News Online.

"In reality, the oldest reproducible sequences go back around 300,000, so already we're beyond theory.

"But I think small fragments could survive for a million years, in a cold climate."

In 2001, a claim was made for the recovery of 1.8-million-year-old DNA found in a specimen taken from South Africa's Sterkfontein Caves, famous for their remains of ancient human-like creatures. But it was a claim that was greeted with wide scepticism.

However, the more durable proteins, Professor Poinar believes, could survive in samples as old as five million years.

That would take researchers back in time to beyond even "Lucy", the Ethiopian hominid that lived 3.2 million years ago and is thought to have given rise to the

Homo

line which ended in modern humans.

Location, location

From proteins, scientists can deduce genetic sequences which could be compared with equivalent genes in modern humans, enabling researchers to work out phylogenetic pathways and provide better information on what our ancient ancestors might really have looked like.

But where the sample is found and how it was preserved will be crucial.

"Realistically, permafrost and ice are the best places," Professor Poinar said. "If that is not possible, I would go for caves.

"You can go into caves and they can maintain constant conditions of temperature and humidity over long periods of time, even though the outside temperature may be way above what it is inside the cave."

After samples of a protein have been extracted, they must be analysed, using a relatively new technique known as time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

It is a slow but highly sensitive process that allows researchers to work out the protein's component parts. And from this information, scientists can reconstruct the genetic sequence that gave rise to the protein.

But Professor Poinar told the AAAS meeting that nothing could be accomplished without finding the right samples.

Relics of relatively modern human relatives such as Neanderthals have been found in caves. More samples of older hominids from similar sites would be most welcome, he said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: ancient; archaeology; cave; clone; crevolist; dna; gene; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; man; molecules; past; sitchin; treeoflife
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cool.
1 posted on 02/16/2004 4:34:38 PM PST by vannrox
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To: <1/1,000,000th%; Aric2000; balrog666; BMCDA; CobaltBlue; Condorman; Dimensio; Doctor Stochastic; ...
ping
2 posted on 02/16/2004 4:38:44 PM PST by js1138
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To: vannrox
I say clone 'em. That would be the best way to learn about human evolution-- by studying a new, living "ancestor"
3 posted on 02/16/2004 4:51:16 PM PST by ChicagoHebrew
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To: vannrox
Professor Poinar, from McMaster University in Canada, said the key was to find fossils preserved so well that samples had not been degraded.

I see nothing new here.

This was the basic premise of Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park."

4 posted on 02/16/2004 4:56:14 PM PST by Reelect President Dubya (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: vannrox
Is this another attempt to shoot down creation, because if it is, it's just a waste of time. To date, not one attempt has succeeded in proving evolution. In fact, in todays world, the evolution theory is just as full of holes as it was when Darwin came up with it.
5 posted on 02/16/2004 5:07:29 PM PST by Joee
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To: ChicagoHebrew
Think man! Since our ancestors probably helped them go extinct, the reparations we'd owe them would be astronomical.

I say clone 'em.

6 posted on 02/16/2004 5:19:03 PM PST by DManA
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To: vannrox
More samples of older hominids from similar sites would be most welcome, he said.

Okay, but we'll have to beat the Army Corps of Engineers to the sites before they plow them under and pour concrete on top.  Don't want to offend the animist supersititions of whatever band of government-subsidized primitives may be setting foot there every five hundred years, thereby attaining native status.
7 posted on 02/16/2004 5:38:53 PM PST by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: *crevo_list; VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; ...
PING. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
8 posted on 02/16/2004 6:12:19 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: vannrox
YEC INTREP
9 posted on 02/16/2004 6:16:37 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: gcruse
I vote we start with the DNA testing of Kennewick Man, just to assure ourselves of his ethnicity, hmmmmmm?
10 posted on 02/16/2004 6:31:59 PM PST by alwaysconservative (If a decorated firefighter becomes an arsonist, is he still considered a hero? Aldrich)
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To: alwaysconservative
You bet.
11 posted on 02/16/2004 6:34:39 PM PST by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: Joee
Is this another attempt to shoot down creation,

I'm not aware of any attempts to "shoot down creation" within science.

To date, not one attempt has succeeded in proving evolution.

Scientific theories are never proven.

In fact, in todays world, the evolution theory is just as full of holes as it was when Darwin came up with it.

Only because it never had any holes from the beginning.
12 posted on 02/16/2004 7:37:31 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: PatrickHenry
Thanks for the interesting article, Patrick.

Bump.

13 posted on 02/16/2004 7:40:49 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul (Freedom isn't won by soundbites but by the unyielding determination and sacrifice given in its cause)
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To: ChicagoHebrew
I say clone 'em. That would be the best way to learn about human evolution-- by studying a new, living "ancestor"

No need. We already have no shortage of Democrats running around.

14 posted on 02/16/2004 7:43:55 PM PST by PeoplesRepublicOfWashington
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To: Joee
To date, not one attempt has succeeded in proving evolution.

Of course not -- science does not deal in "proofs". *No* scientific discovery or theory is proven. But they can still be used to build working fighter jets and computers.

In fact, in todays world, the evolution theory is just as full of holes as it was when Darwin came up with it.

Oh? Feel free to choose what you consider the very best example of a "hole" in the evolution theory and tell us what it is.

This should be fun.

15 posted on 02/16/2004 7:52:46 PM PST by Ichneumon
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: WhiteChristianCons
Not only are they trying to demean and debase creation, they would like us to believe that the first humans appeared in Africa. LOL!!

I'm curious. What's your problem with the first humans appearing in Africa?
17 posted on 02/16/2004 8:02:54 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: Ichneumon
It's all the 65 million year-old human fossils found by Dr. Dino. He'll be offering them on e-Bay soon as part of his bankruptcy filing. /sarcasm
18 posted on 02/16/2004 8:06:56 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Ichneumon
A dog and a cat bred together making a Catsdography. ---- A real missing link somewhere? Was it the chicken or the egg? The lack of any fossile history out of millions of collected fossil's. Finally, and this will grab you, the Bible itself, which you believe or don't. Try Genesis as a starter!
19 posted on 02/16/2004 8:30:25 PM PST by Joee
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To: Joee
A dog and a cat bred together making a Catsdography. -

Huh?

A real missing link somewhere?

What?

Was it the chicken or the egg?

I don't understand what you're trying to ask. The lack of any fossile history out of millions of collected fossil's.

What lack of "any fossile history"?

Finally, and this will grab you, the Bible itself, which you believe or don't.

You seem skilled at making statements that say absolutely nothing. "The Bible, either you believe it or you don't!". That has as much meaning as "Chocolate, either you like it or you don't.".

Try Genesis as a starter!

What does this have to do with the topic of discussion?
20 posted on 02/16/2004 8:58:16 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: WhiteChristianCons
I have no problem with something that never was; but I do have a problem with lying.

What, exactly, makes you think that it is a lie?
22 posted on 02/16/2004 9:25:22 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: WhiteChristianCons
Perhaps you will show us which papers are knowingly mistating the evidence? Show your own evidence (or references thereunto) as to why the researchers are knowingly wrong.

Or are you just flinging the term "lie" at some unnamed people about some unreferenced work? Strong words with no supporting evidence brings into question your bona fides.
23 posted on 02/16/2004 9:41:56 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Joee
"In fact, in todays world, the evolution theory is just as full of holes as it was when Darwin came up with it."

Would you care to enumerate the holes for us?

What do you think the evidence points towards and why?
24 posted on 02/16/2004 9:51:30 PM PST by adam_az (Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting weftists.)
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To: PatrickHenry; thegreatprion
Patrickhenry, could you please add thegreatprion to this list?

thegreatprion, this is the article I told you about.
25 posted on 02/16/2004 9:52:58 PM PST by adam_az (Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting weftists.)
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To: vannrox
Cold.
26 posted on 02/16/2004 10:04:05 PM PST by Old Professer
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To: PatrickHenry
I don't know the url, but I join in praying for this young man!
27 posted on 02/16/2004 10:37:33 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: PatrickHenry
Oops. Right message, wrong window. Sorry about that! Thanks for the ping, PatrickHenry!
28 posted on 02/16/2004 10:38:18 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
I've done that too.
29 posted on 02/17/2004 4:11:45 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: Dimensio
I'm curious. What's your problem with the first humans appearing in Africa?

Duh. Because, that's where black people come from. There are some people who are very uncomfortable with the fact that everyone on Earth shares a common ancestry.

30 posted on 02/17/2004 7:05:04 AM PST by Modernman ("When you want to fool the world, tell the truth." -Otto von Bismarck)
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To: Joee
A dog and a cat bred together making a Catsdography

What?

A real missing link somewhere?

What is this supposed missing link supposed to link?

Finally, and this will grab you, the Bible itself, which you believe or don't. Try Genesis as a starter!

What about the hundreds of other creation myths that humanity has come up with over the centuries? What makes you so sure that the Hindu creation story isn't more accurate than the one you believe in? Other than faith, do you have any evidence that supports your particular creation myth?

31 posted on 02/17/2004 7:10:10 AM PST by Modernman ("When you want to fool the world, tell the truth." -Otto von Bismarck)
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To: Modernman
Apparently you hold the belief that you are a product of something crawling out of the ancient slime, and evolving into a fine young person, of considerable intellect. So be it!

As for me, I prefer to believe I am the product of divine planning, put on this orb to meet certain criteria and destined to do further work for the Lord in eternity.

I have done some reading on Creation vs Evolution and can find no evidence to support Evolution when it comes down to the nitty gritty. I offer the following URL for your possible interest.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful response.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37148

32 posted on 02/17/2004 9:34:53 AM PST by Joee
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To: Joee
Apparently you hold the belief that you are a product of something crawling out of the ancient slime, and evolving into a fine young person, of considerable intellect. So be it!

Perhaps if you would actually argue what your opponent believes rather than making up their position for them you would have more credibility. Then again, it would greatly weaken your arguments.

Your WorldNetDaily citation is confusing. The article is about the percentage of people who believe in a literal interpretation of Biblical stories, but I don't see what that has to do with the issue of evolution.
33 posted on 02/17/2004 9:40:05 AM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: Joee
As for me, I prefer to believe I am the product of divine planning, put on this orb to meet certain criteria and destined to do further work for the Lord in eternity.

What work could you possibly do for a deity capable of creating the whole universe and every living thing within it?

34 posted on 02/17/2004 10:10:49 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: PatrickHenry
touche.

This thread has thus far certainly brought about some intetesting new takes on these issues.

35 posted on 02/17/2004 10:19:27 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: Joee
...I prefer to believe ...

Another example of the identity of Creationism and PostModernDeconstructionism. Prefences rather than evidence.

36 posted on 02/17/2004 10:46:19 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: WhiteChristianCons
they would like us to believe that the first humans appeared in Africa. LOL!!

Welcome to FR. While I would usually chalk up your off-the-wall statement to just another troll, in combination with your screen name, my eyebrows were raised.

While it appears that you are insulted or afraid of the obvious facts that humans did indeed spring from Africa, I'm curious as to what you actually think on this matter.

Your week's worth of posts on things such as "FREE MILOSEVIC," "Monkey is not a racist term," "Mexicans are NOT Europeans and get the hell out of my country" aside, please do help us ignorant folks as to where the cradle of civilization was, exactly.
37 posted on 02/17/2004 12:31:53 PM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: Reelect President Dubya
Yeah, except that wasn't real and this is...
38 posted on 02/17/2004 12:35:27 PM PST by Cogadh na Sith (The Guns of Brixton)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
That's exactly what I have been saying. There is no valid evidence of Evolution.
39 posted on 02/17/2004 12:36:19 PM PST by Joee
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To: Dimensio
Evolution leaves you with that major problem to explain. Which was 1st the chickens or the eggs?
40 posted on 02/17/2004 1:00:31 PM PST by Joee
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To: Joee
Evolution leaves you with that major problem to explain.

What major problem?

Which was 1st the chickens or the eggs?

The eggs. Egg-laying critters were around for quite some time before chickens appeared.
41 posted on 02/17/2004 1:03:43 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: Dimensio
Ever notice that only the names change, but the song remains the same? Weird. Like there's some assembly line somewhere that just pops a new one out every few minutes or so...
42 posted on 02/17/2004 1:13:49 PM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: Joee
I have done some reading on Creation vs Evolution and can find no evidence to support Evolution when it comes down to the nitty gritty.

I too have done some reading on this subject and can find no evidence to support Creation when it comes down to the nitty gritty.
43 posted on 02/17/2004 1:14:46 PM PST by radioman
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To: general_re
Ever notice that only the names change, but the song remains the same?

Kind of, but some are more coherent than others, even if all of them appeal to faulty reasoning and discredited science. The more recent batch that I've seen lately is far less articulate than some of the previous offerings. Joee doesn't even seem to be trying to prove a point, he just seems to be pulling random buzzphrases from very poorly-written creationists tracts, except that he doesn't have them on hand so he's resorting to memory and it's been years since he read them.

Same song, different artist. Kind of like lots of cover bands playing music originally written by Kent Hovind. They don't reproduce it well, but the tune wasn't that good to begin with.
44 posted on 02/17/2004 1:19:32 PM PST by Dimensio (I gave you LIFE! I -- AAAAAAAAH!)
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To: Joee
No disrepect intended, but you really aren't educated enough in the subject matter to disprove evolution with any credibility.
45 posted on 02/17/2004 1:28:08 PM PST by StolarStorm
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To: general_re
"Ever notice that only the names change, but the song remains the same? Weird. Like there's some assembly line somewhere that just pops a new one out every few minutes or so..."

It's caused by wholesale brainwashing of the immature mind. These poor fellows never had a chance.
46 posted on 02/17/2004 1:31:32 PM PST by StolarStorm
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To: Joee
Eggs came first. Not even close.

Speaking of fowl, are bats considered fowl?
47 posted on 02/17/2004 1:33:57 PM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: Joee
To date, not one attempt has succeeded in proving evolution.

However weak the scientific evidence for evolution may be, it is significantly stronger than the scientific evidence for creationism. To date, to my knowledge, not one attempt has succeeded in scientifically proving that our existence is the result of the whim of an omnipotent being. The fact that proponents of creationism spend more time trashing evolution than attempting to prove their own theory speaks volumes about the merits of both.

48 posted on 02/17/2004 1:45:28 PM PST by ForOurFuture
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To: whattajoke
"Speaking of fowl, are bats considered fowl?"

No, but that stuff on the cave floor sure is.

49 posted on 02/17/2004 2:22:03 PM PST by misanthrope (GO BIG "E"!!)
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To: ForOurFuture
I'm sure you are at peace with your findings, as I am with mine. When your time is due, I guess the ooze will claim your body and soul(?) as apparently you were here on a "unplanned" mission. Good luck!
50 posted on 02/17/2004 4:29:48 PM PST by Joee
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