Tag Archives: DNA

First Humans to Leave Africa Continued to Interbreed with Africans

This month’s Nature includes a recent genetic study of human genetics and inter-breeding. The new study indicates that the original humans to leave Africa remained reproductively active with Africans as recently as 20,000 years ago. These conclusions were largely drawn from data found in mitochondrial DNA (passed on, unchanged from Mother to child), tracking back ancestry hundreds of generations. The data highlights the close relatedness of all human beings, regardless of skin color.

You can read more about this study in Nature (if you have a subscription) or in this wonderful synopsis by Scientific American.

DNA Tests Prove that Shrunken Heads are Real

Shrunken Heads have been one of the long debated phenomena of Anthropology. People have long questioned whether or not they were legitimate relics of head hunting practices or elaborate hoaxes. Shrunken Heads have long been reported as the gruesome trophies of head hunting tribes in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and South America (as well as in Europe, but in far more distant past). The last documented cases of Head Hunting took place in Papua New Guinea. Although long band, the outbreak of Kuru, a degenerative nerve disorder transmitted through human tissue, put that the last nails in the metaphorical coffin.

Although Head Hunting is well documented, the process of ‘shrinking heads’ was strongly guarded by the natives who performed the rituals and process of ‘head shrinking.’ New evidence presented by Gila Kahila Bar-Galm Ph.D. and her colleagues have demonstrated, through extensive DNA evidence, that a remarkably well preserved human shrunken head is indeed authentic (most shrunken heads, estimated at 80%) are fakes.

Read more about the process and the authentication of the remains in this MSNBC article or in this piece at Discovery News.