UCSC professor in New York Times story on fossil DNA discovery

December 12, 2013

A UC Santa Cruz professor was quoted in a recent New York Times story looking at the recent finding of what’s believed to be the oldest DNA evidence yet of humans’ biological history.

Carl Zimmer’s piece ran last week but I glossed over the UCSC reference.

Beth Shapiro, an expert on ancient DNA at the University of California, Santa Cruz, favors an even more radical possibility: that the humans of Sima de los Huesos belong to yet another branch of humans. They might have been a species called Homo erectus, which originated about 1.8 million years ago and became extinct within the last few hundred thousand years.

“The more we learn from the DNA extracted from these fossils, the more complicated the story becomes,” Dr. Shapiro said.

Dr. Shapiro spoke at a recent Science on Tap event at the Crepe Place about the possibilities of using DNA extracted from fossils to “de-extinct” extinct species.

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