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Archeologists once relied solely on artifacts, such as skeletal remains, fossils and pottery sherds, to learn about past species and cultures. Today's scientists can also study ancient proteins to paint a more complete picture of the people who lived at archeological sites, and the plants and animals they raised and ate, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
For the past couple of decades, scientists have been sequencing ancient DNA to uncover information about ancestral humans and other animals. However, DNA isn't very stable over long periods of time and cannot be recovered from many ancient remains, Senior Correspondent Celia Henry Arnaud writes. In contrast, proteins are hardier: For example, scientists have recovered and analyzed proteins from an approximately 1.77-mllion-year-old rhinoceros tooth. To identify ancient proteins, most researchers rely on mass spectrometry, using data from this technique to...
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