BioEssays 5/2010


Cover Photograph: Artists impression of a Saqqiq (ancient Eskimo), by Nuka Godtfredsen: The recent sequencing of a complete ‘palaeoeskimo” genome marks another milestone in the analysis of ancient human DNA, but also raises questions of cost and scientific limitations. As Shapiro and Hofreiter comment in this issue, it is an impressive achievement, but sequencing of just a fraction of the genome - hence accommodating the limitations of the short fragments in ancient DNA, and reducing the prohibitive cost - might well reveal a sufficient number of polymorphic positions (SNPs) to elucidate the origins of modern peoples. Many other aspects of genome sequencing are covered in this paper that takes us from a 4000 year old hair sample to modern humans living in Southern Africa.