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    Research: Smithsonian Magazine: Ancient mummies finally give up their genetic secrets
    Submitted by J.W. Bizzaro; posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2017



    Historically, the idea of extracting DNA from an Egyptian mummy has been a bit like trying to suck dinosaur DNA out an insect trapped in amber: a tantalizing prospect, but still more myth than science. "This has been around for a long time as a hot topic," says Johannes Krause, a geneticist at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. But unlike the dino scenario, it turns out analyzing mummy DNA is actually scientifically possible.

    Krause has spent his career teasing information out of very old DNA. His work has led to the discovery of a new subspecies of human, which he helped identify from a bone fragment in a European cave; he also definitively identified the disease behind the infamous Black Death by examining dug-up plague victims. Now he can add another ancient jewel to his list: mummies. His team has managed to extract the first intact DNA from thousands-year-old Egyptian mummies, allowing them to unravel the secrets of their genetic heritage.

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