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Johannes de León
Monday, July 19th, 2004, 08:32 PM
July 19, 2004 — Researchers may be able to make more accurate reconstructions of what ancient humans looked like with the first ever use of ancient DNA to determine hair and skin color from skeletal remains.

The research was presented last week at an international ancient DNA conference in Brisbane, Australia, by German anthropologist, Diane Schmidt of the University of Göttingen.

She said her research may also help to identify modern day murderers and their victims.



http://dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/20040719/gallery/skincolor_goto.jpg
DNA: Putting a Face on the Dead



"Three thousand years ago, nobody was doing painting and there was no photography. We do not know what people looked like," Schmidt told ABC Science Online.


She said most images in museums and books were derived from comparisons with living people from the same regions.

"For example, when we make a reconstruction of people from Africa we think that they had dark skin or dark hair," she said. "But there's no real scientific information. It's just a guess. It's mostly imagination."

She said this had meant, for example, that the reconstruction of Neanderthals had changed over time.

"In the 1920s, the Neanderthals were reconstructed as wild people with dark hair and dumb, not really clever," she said. "Today, with the same fossil record, with the same bones and no other information — just a change in ideology — you see reconstructions of people with blue eyes and quite light skin color, looking intelligent and using tools.

"Most of the reconstructions you see in museums are a thing of the imagination of the reconstructor. Our goal is to make this reconstruction less subjective and give them an objective basis with scientific data."

In research for her recently completed PhD, Schmidt built on research from the fields of dermatology and skin cancer that have found genetic markers for traits such as skin and hair color in modern humans.

In particular, Schmidt relied on the fact that different mutations (known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) in the melanocortin receptor 1 gene are responsible for skin and hair color.

"There is a set of SNPs that tells you that a person was a redhead and a different set of markers tell you they were fair skinned," she said.

She extracted DNA from ancient human bones as old as 3,000 years old from three different locations in Germany and looked for these SNPs.

Her findings suggest that red hair and fair skin was very uncommon among ancient Germans.

Out of a total of 26 people analyzed, Schmidt found only one person with red hair and fair skin, a man from the Middle Ages. All the other people had more UV-tolerant skin that tans easily.

She said she was excited when she "colored in" the faces that once covered the skulls, and had even developed "a kind of a personal relationship" with one of them.

"It's not so anonymous," she said. "I think this is the reason why people in museums can do reconstruction because our ancestors are not so anonymous any more; they have a face you can look into."

Unfortunately the genetic markers Schmidt used could not distinguish which of the ancient humans had blond versus black hair, and she could not determine eye color.

But, she said she was confident that this will be possible in a few years.

Schmidt said that such research could also be used to help build up identikit pictures to help identify skeletons or criminals.

The research has been submitted for publication.

Stríbog
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 02:55 AM
I think they should extract DNA from the human remains excavated at Herculanæum and Pompeii to get an idea of what the Roman aristocracy and slave classes looked like, and to get an idea of how both compare to modern Italians.

Awar
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 03:54 AM
Can they find the eye-colour?

Scoob
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 04:21 AM
Unfortunately the genetic markers Schmidt used could not distinguish which of the ancient humans had blond versus black hair, and she could not determine eye color.


But, she said she was confident that this will be possible in a few years.

Awar
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 04:33 AM
Oops, missed that part. Thanks.
If it really works, it's a nice improvement for archaeology.
It can't hurt to know more.

Scoob
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 05:06 AM
Oops, missed that part. Thanks.
If it really works, it's a nice improvement for archaeology.
It can't hurt to know more. Maybe corporations can sponser research into genetic tests to determine whether ancient people would prefer Coke or Pepsi. Or we can finally resolve the question of whether Genghis Khan would go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. ;)

Ah, market-driven research. Once and for all, capitalism will triumph over the forces of Statism and bureaucratic stasis. The former Iraq can be re-named Haliburtonia. The dictators of the world will be supplanted by CEOs and stock market Freedom Fighters like George Soros.

ahem ahem. What was this thread about???

Awar
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 05:08 AM
Maybe corporations can sponser research into genetic tests to determine whether ancient people would prefer Coke or Pepsi. Or we can finally resolve the question of whether Genghis Khan would go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. ;)

Ah, market-driven research. Once and for all, capitalism will triumph over the forces of Statism and bureaucratic stasis. The former Iraq can be re-named Haliburtonia. The dictators of the world will be supplanted by CEOs and stock market Freedom Fighters like George Soros.

ahem ahem. What was this thread about???

Taco bell, taco bell, product placement for Taco Beeeeeeeeell :D ( Kung Pow: Enter the Fist )

Johannes de León
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 09:07 AM
Taco bell, taco bell, product placement for Taco Beeeeeeeeell :D ( Kung Pow: Enter the Fist ) Welcome to the Great Circle of... erm... Stuff, Chosimba! :D

Louky
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 01:01 PM
Her findings suggest that red hair and fair skin was very uncommon among ancient Germans.
A rate of approximately 4% from this very small sample is close to the occurrence in modern Germanic populations.


Out of a total of 26 people analyzed, Schmidt found only one person with ... fair skin, a man from the Middle Ages. All the other people had more UV-tolerant skin that tans easily.
This is ambiguous. Does she mean that their untanned skin was darker than "fair" or did she mean they had fair skin that was able to tan? If it's the latter, I don't see much divergence from ancient people regarding skin color among Germanics.

Johannes de León
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 01:09 PM
This is ambiguous. Does she mean that their untanned skin was darker than "fair" or did she mean they had fair skin that was able to tan? If it's the latter, I don't see much divergence from ancient people regarding skin color among Germanics. According to the title of the original source, i think she means that their untanned skin was darker than fair.

you can, however, use this to ask them: science.editor@your.abc.net.au

also you can check the original article here (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1154815.htm).

Louky
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 02:33 PM
According to the title of the original source, i think she means that their untanned skin was darker than fair.

you can, however, use this to ask them: science.editor@your.abc.net.au

also you can check the original article here (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1154815.htm).
Thank you for the email address. I have sent my inquiry.

The article, Ancient Germans not so fair, by Anna Salleh makes me suspect Miss Salleh may have inadvertently taken the findings of Dr. Diane Schmidt out of context. Outside the title of the article, as you note, I see no reason to deduce from the reported scientific findings that the Germanic phenotype has changed much from antiquity.

Here's a link I found while following links from the subject to an article on the possibility of misleading results from analyzing damaged ancient DNA: http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s786146.htm

Scoob
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004, 04:11 PM
I think you are right, Louky.

Note that the article contrasts fair skin with "...UV-tolerant skin that tans easily." It seems to me that the article is describing the Skin type 1, which doesn't tan and is common in redheads. Most Germans today get a bronze tan fairly easily (Skin type 2 is the most common amongst Europeans).

Dr. Solar Wolff
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 08:16 AM
Taco bell, taco bell, product placement for Taco Beeeeeeeeell :D ( Kung Pow: Enter the Fist )

A genetic analysis of this post throws your Serbian ancestry into question. Only Californians voluntarily eat at Taco Bell or unless they were dropped as a child.

rusalka
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 08:47 AM
I think they should extract DNA from the human remains excavated at Herculanæum and Pompeii to get an idea of what the Roman aristocracy and slave classes looked like, and to get an idea of how both compare to modern Italians.
Actually I had read something on Ancient Greek and Roman mtDNA, there has already been some research done on that, although I can't recall if the samples were from Herculanaeum or Pompeii. I should be able to find it again..

symmakhos
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 01:05 PM
"Three thousand years ago, nobody was doing painting ... Schmidt told ABC Science Online.
Did she mean 30,000 years? As far as I know, there are at least Egyptian and Minoan colour paintings preserved from the second millenium BC. The funny thing is, by convention they paint the men black and the women white...

Awar
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 01:11 PM
A genetic analysis of this post throws your Serbian ancestry into question. Only Californians voluntarily eat at Taco Bell or unless they were dropped as a child.

Actually, I don't know what taco-bell is, I just quoted a movie. :)
Is there something I need to know before the first taco-bell opens up in my country?

Louky
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 01:20 PM
According to the title of the original source, i think she means that their untanned skin was darker than fair.

you can, however, use this to ask them: science.editor@your.abc.net.au

also you can check the original article here (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1154815.htm).
"Thank you for contacting ABC Science Online.

The skin was more UV-tolerant than UV-sensitive. The researcher did not say, specifically, how dark they were. But the skin was not the very fair skin that some people may have been expecting.

Anna Evangeli
Science News Editor
ABC Science Online
www.abc.net.au/science/news"

Vestmannr
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004, 05:13 PM
Actually, I don't know what taco-bell is, I just quoted a movie. :)
Is there something I need to know before the first taco-bell opens up in my country?

Yes. 'Yo Quiero Taco Bell' - Chihuahuas talk! Also, eat at Taco Bueno instead if you can. ;)

Dr. Solar Wolff
Thursday, September 23rd, 2004, 05:02 AM
Actually, I don't know what taco-bell is, I just quoted a movie. :)
Is there something I need to know before the first taco-bell opens up in my country?

Taco Bell is the McDonalds of Mexican food, if you even want to call it Mexican food. You might consider eating at Taco Bell once, while visiting America, as part of the American experience but it is not something that other countries should consider importing.

Vlad Cletus
Thursday, September 23rd, 2004, 05:30 AM
Taco Bell is the McDonalds of Mexican food, if you even want to call it Mexican food. You might consider eating at Taco Bell once, while visiting America, as part of the American experience but it is not something that other countries should consider importing.

I think Taco Bell is a poor, and cheap representation of Mexican food. As are most American restaurants when regarding quality. Quantity is always priority over Quality.


To Thread: As better methods in this field are revealed, we'll have a great clear picture on our ancestors, and what to ponder.

Vestmannr
Thursday, September 23rd, 2004, 10:42 PM
I would expect that fairer skin was an evolution on the continent of Europe, and that the proto-Europids who had come from the Central Asians were somewhat darker like Native Americans, Central Asians, Mongoloids, Indo-Persians, etc. Which probably explains why some regions with European blood going back tens of thousands of years can have somewhat 'dark' individuals as a 'throwback' or archaic survival. The question I hope that this technology might answer is a timeline for when the skin tone was changing - it might tell us *much* about the climate during the past ages.

Some folk seem to forget that we are *still evolving*, and our ancestors didn't necessarily look like us. The ancestors of our ancestors even less so. Europeans are one of the most *recent* groups evolutionarily speaking (especially certain subraces more than others), so our history of change is also much more recent.

Boerncian
Friday, September 24th, 2004, 07:18 PM
Actually, I don't know what taco-bell is, I just quoted a movie. :)
Is there something I need to know before the first taco-bell opens up in my country?
yes its Mexican food but Mexicans would not be caught dead there.:death

The Blond Beast
Monday, September 27th, 2004, 09:46 AM
yes its Mexican food but Mexicans would not be caught dead there.:death

The most delicious aspect of Taco Bell is the fact that Mexicans are buying a lamentable, bastardized version of their own culture.

White Preservationist
Wednesday, September 29th, 2004, 12:49 AM
The people to whom belonged the bones that where dug upp in Hallstatt, Austria were not nordic. They were meds.

Awar
Wednesday, September 29th, 2004, 01:23 AM
Not that there's a huge skeletal difference, but, how do you know exactly what they were?

The Blond Beast
Wednesday, September 29th, 2004, 01:25 AM
The people to whom belonged the bones that where dug upp in Hallstatt, Austria were not nordic. They were meds.

Hence, the Hallstatt Nordic. :P

Klegutati
Saturday, January 20th, 2007, 04:52 PM
Maybe this does prove the R1b Paleolithic cro-magnons that settled Western and Central Europe were dark skinned. I can't wait until they find original colour of hair. I think it's probably dark brown-black, but most likely black..:thumbup

Cro-Magnon - Aurignacian
http://www.br-online.de/wissen-bildung/thema/neandertaler/foto/cro-magnon_dpa.jpg