Another hominin genome, another spanner in the works for hominid evolutionary scholars.
Thanks to the continuing rapid development and improvement of sequencing technologies a team of researchers have been able to sequence the mitochondrial genome from the femur of a 400,000 year old hominid in a cave in Spain called Sima de los Huesos, eerily translated to Pit of Bones. The site is well known for it’s ancient archeological finds.
It is well known that DNA is the construction manual of life, DNA sequences lead to amino acids which are built into proteins which build the cells and enzymes needed for an organism to grow. Changing even one letter of DNA can have profound effects on an organism, sickle cell disorder being a good example in humans.
But what if more than just structure could be passed on to your offspring through your DNA? Controversial new research suggests that learned behaviours such as fears may be able to be inherited via a mechanism called epigenetics, a form of DNA modification that doesn’t affect the code but instead adds a methyl molecule to certain DNA sites that can affect how often the DNA is transcribed and translated into proteins.