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Keywords:

  • ancient DNA;
  • amino-acid racemization;
  • DNA preservation;
  • latitude

Abstract

Recovery of ancient DNA has become an increasingly important tool in elucidating the origins of past populations and their relationships. Unfortunately, many human skeletal remains do not contain original DNA amplifiable by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Amino-acid racemization has proven to be a useful predictor of ancient DNA results. We analyzed the relative levels of amino-acid preservation and racemization of human samples from two highland dry-cave sites in Sri Lanka, and found that amino-acid enantiomer ratios were inconsistent with successful authentic DNA recovery. A review of the literature reveals that these results are consistent with a global pattern of poor DNA preservation in the tropics. Am J Phys Anthropol 121:000–000, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.