Her First Haircut In 3,700 Years
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:15:12 PM
The following is a sort of follow-up on that, so I suggest you skim the prior post (and comment thread for additional info) before you go ahead.
When I, recently, read the latest news about my 3,700 year old ex-girlfriend, I thought now is the chance for me to educate my loyal readers. Thing is, she's about to get a new hairdo.
Model wearing a replica of the dress the Egtved Girl wore when she was burried.
What we know is that she was around 16 years old,
healthy and strong and with stomach contents suggesting
a rich and nutrious diet.
Barbarian? I think not.
There are not many organic remnants left of the Egtved girl, but there is sufficiently enough hair on the famous Bronze Age find for molecular biologist Morten Allentoft of The University of Copenhagen to cut a lock off for his research.
He is trying to identify her DNA in order to retrieve further knowledge on how the Northern European population looked 3,700 years ago.
If the scientists manage to isolate enough DNA of sufficient quality, the hair samples will tell them something about where the Egtved Girl came from and what she physically looked like.
The project has been named The Rise.
If the hair sample turns out to be particularly useful, the reflections are on whether her entire genome can be mapped.
This way science might get closer to answering some of the major questions, that archeologists, anthropologists and historians have been asking for centuries.
One is the question of whether our ancestors mingled with other past human species. Mapping the DNA of bronze age remains might clarify whether there is more Neanderthal in them than there is in us contemporary people.
This might lead science closer to solving the mystery of what ever became of the Neanderthals.
The Neanderthals were members of the genus Homo, and are classified alternatively as a subspecies of Homo sapiens or as a separate human species (Homo neanderthalensis). The Neanderthals disappeared from the fossil records around 25,000 years ago. It is a mystery how and why, because it seems that the Neanderthals actually were better equipped for survival than Homo sapiens.
According to the myth, the Neanderthals were stupid and violent.
Recent research suggest they weren't.
Actually they might have been better equipped to survive
and even better organized than Homo sapiens.
And still, we conquered them.
Makes you wonder.
One of the scenarios suggested is that the co-existence between the two species amounted to a violent conflict of massive proportions that ended up in one species killing the other, us being the victorious race. Not because we were physically better equipped but because we were the most agressive and ruthless.
Although our ancestors might have been a tad rough on eachother, genetic evidence suggests that some interbreeding did take place, resulting in 1–4 percent of the genome of modern people from Eurasia having been contributed by Neanderthals.
Yeah. This means that we all are part Neanderthal.
Besides The Egtved Girl, Morten Allentoft have examined DNA from hundreds of Bronze Age teeth gathered from museums in Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Germany.
All these samples should help to identify our ancestors' desire to move around in the northern European landscape. Currently, work is based on the paradigm that Bronze Age people did not move around a lot and only exchanged ideas at the local level.
The RISE project might show that Europe is far more complex in the genetic makeup than we previously believed, and this might affect our self-understanding.
In other words: it might show that we are not that different after all, that the old saying about us being of the same flesh might prove right.
It might also mean that my ex-girlfriend, apart from having been dead for almost 4,000 years, turns out to be a bleeding Neanderthal. How disturbing...
More about the Neanderthal Genome Project here