April 26, 2012

Ancient DNA from Santimamiñe (Biscay): not yet published but on the way

Researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) have already sequenced but not yet published, it seems, mitochondrial DNA from the Paleolithic inhabitants of Santimamiñe, a cave with a lengthy sequence from the Gravettian (and earlier Mousterian and Chatelperronian but these are supposed to be Neanderthals) to the Iron Age. 

The cave is located not far from Gernika, in the municipality of Kortezubi and hosts some rock art of bisons, horses and bears, all located in a small hidden corner that I had the luck to visit as a kid (now it's not accessible to the general public for preservation reasons).

At the moment of writing this, I am not very sure to which period the human remains belong. Publications usually emphasize the techno-cultural and artistic aspects and unless a skull would have been found, what is not the case, there is little emphasis on human remains. However nowadays, with the advent of genetics, they get a new significance as, at least potentially, links to modern and other prehistoric people can be established or discarded, producing potentially valuable information for the understanding of Prehistory. 

On May 6th the research team is heading to the area to collect samples from maternally-rooted locals, in order to compare with the already decoded but not yet published ancient DNA sequence. 

I can't way to read the results, you can imagine. But even more because one of my ancestral lineages, the patrilineal one, is from a nearby village: Ibarrangelua.

I just hope that they have done the testing properly and not just sequenced the control region (HVS), which is often more confusing than revealing. 

Source[es]: Deia (found via Pileta).

Update (Jun 8): published in French but it is from the Neolithic, discussed here.

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