Ancient DNA and Human Evolution

Ancient DNA data have provided unprecedented insights into the recent history of our species. In particular, methodological improvements and innovations over the last ten years have advanced our ability to recover small fragments, target specific sequences, identify damage patterns, and obtain genome scale data. As a result, we have evidence for admixture among modern and archaic humans as well as greater appreciation for the complexity of population histories for modern humans around the world. This symposium brings together researchers at the forefront of ancient DNA research and population genetics to discuss current developments and share insights about human migration and adaptation. (from

Image: Ancient DNA and Human Evolution

1. The Landscape of Archaic Ancestry in Modern Humans
In this talk, Sriram Sankararaman describes methods that enable us to map the locations of archaic ancestry in present-day humans.

2. Prehistoric Human Biology as Inferred from Dental Calculus
Christina Warinner explains how emerging ancient dental calculus research is changing the way we investigate the human past and how this is leading to a deeper understanding of human biology and evolution.

3. The Oldest Human DNA Sequences
Matthias Meyer discusses the technical difficulties one faces when working with poorly preserved ancient material and the insights this work provides into human evolution in the Middle Pleistocene.

4. Neandertal and Denisovan Genomes and What They Tell Us
In this talk Kay Prufer explains that the analysis of high coverage genome sequences from two archaic human individuals (a Neandertal and a Denisovan) has revealed that they are more closely related to one another than they are to modern humans.

5. The Origins of Modern Humans in Africa
Brenna Henn explores patterns of genetic diversity across Africa and models for modern human origins in this talk.

6. A Map of Neandertal Genes in Present Day Humans
Joshua Akey and his team have developed methods to identify Neandertal sequences that persist in the DNA of modern individuals and applied it to whole-genome sequences from over 1,500 geographically diverse individuals.

7. The Phenotypic Legacy of Neandertal Interbreeding on Modern Humans
Tony Capra and his team analyzed the contribution of common Neandertal variants to over 1000 electronic health record (EHR)-derived phenotypes in ~28,000 adults of European ancestry.

8. Ancient European Population History
Johannes Krause and his research team analyzed more than 200 ancient human genomes spanning the last 10,000 years of Western Eurasian prehistory.

9. The Genetic History of the Americas
In this talk, Maria Avila-Arcos presents a review of the current state of knowledge of the genetic history of the Americas as revealed by ancient and modern DNA studies.

Related Links
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This is a four-part BBC documentary series narrated by Robert Winston, about the story of human evolution from Australopithecus afarensis to Homo sapiens.
A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins
The Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of all present-day human and the Neanderthal genome sequence provides unique insights into modern humans origins.
Origins of Genus Homo
This explores evidence bearing on the emergence of our genus, focusing on possible antecedents to Homo, changes in diet and body form as Australopithecus evolved toward Homo, ancient species within the genus, and evolutionary processes.
The Evolution of Human Biodiversity
This is a series of videos on the evolution of human biodiversity from CARTA (Center for Academic Research & Training in Anthropogeny).
Prehistoric Autopsy
This is a BBC documentary series presented by Professor Alice Roberts and Dr. George McGavin, taking us on an evolutionary journey to meet three of our ancient ancestors - Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, and Lucy.
Becoming Human: Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors
This is a three-part NOVA's documentary series investigating the recent discoveries transforming our understanding of our human origins.
The Great Human Odyssey
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The Incredible Human Journey
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Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
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