First successful extraction of ancient DNA from a southern African mummy
|A three-dimensional volume rendering of the Tuli mummy |
[Credit: SA Journal of Science]
Mummified human remains are valuable sources of information on past populations. The researchers reported on the radiological and molecular findings of a partially mummified individual found in northern Botswana, in the Tuli block.
|The intact mummy, covered with animal skin, as it was discovered at the base |
of a cliff in Botswana [Credit: SA Journal of Science]
CT scanning revealed that none of the internal organs were preserved. Multiple post-mortem alterations are seen, but apart from some degenerative changes of the lower vertebral column, the axial skeleton has remained intact. The advanced osteophytosis (degenerative changes of the spine) suggests an older age than what was previously estimated. The cause of death could not be confirmed, but he did not shown any signs of injury.
The aDNA analysis confirms that the individual possibly had a Sotho-Tswana or Khoesan genetic relatedness, as could be expected from individuals from that region.
Source: University of the Witwatersrand [March 17, 2016]