Category Archives: Human evolution

Ancient DNA adds a piece to the PIE

By Wolfgang Haak

It’s no secret that the history of mankind has a fascination for me. As a boy, I used to make bows and arrows, spears and stone tools, hung out in the large woods behind our house in the German countryside, and read books about Stone Age mammoth hunters of Europe (I won’t mention the loincloth I made of rabbit skins). Now, I work in the field of ancient DNA, in the lucky position to apply my personal passion for the human past through the combined research interests of genetics and archaeology.

This is hard work on a day-to-day basis. Our rewards include publications, when we can share our hard work with others, as was the case this week. This study is the culmination Continue reading


What’s been going on? – Part 1: Why did the chicken cross the Pacific?

By Vicki Thomson

In the quest to find out what on earth is going on, I have been asking some animals how all the people of different cultures came together to create the modern world.

At home in New Zealand, I describe myself as a Pakeha, it means a New Zealander (Kiwi) of European descent. However, I also have some Maori blood. This means my ancestors were individuals of different cultures and homelands who all undertook travels to new worlds, and as a kid the stories behind these human journeys fascinated me. Continue reading

Hike and Pluck: The adventure of delving into the past using genetics and chickens

By Michael Herrera

Genetic research is often viewed as endless laboratory work with little room for real adventure. While partly true, this is not the case when you are researching archaeogenetics: genetics that delves into the human past.  I am Michael Herrera, a PhD researcher at the University of Adelaide and this is my adventure:


The rice terraces of Banaue, Ifugao. Courtesy: M. Herrera

My research involves using genetic variations in domesticated animals as a way to understand prehistoric human migration. This is based on the premise that when prehistoric humans moved around they carried items with them. This included a living larder, including animals such as chickens Continue reading