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Genomics: An ancient hairy tale

For the first time, the sequence of a near-complete nuclear genome has been obtained from the tissue of an ancient human. It comes from permafrostpreserved hair, about 4,000 years old, of a male palaeo-Eskimo of the Saqqaq culture, the earliest known settlers in Greenland. Functional inglenucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assessment was used to assign possible phenotypic characteristics. The analysis provides evidence for a migration from Siberia into the New World some 5,500 years ago, independent of the migration that gave rise to the modern Native Americans and Inuit. On the cover, Nuka K. Godtfredsen’s sketch of the sequenced individual based on the SNP assessment and images of the closest related contemporary populations. [Article p. 757; News & Views p. 739;] Elsewhere in the issue we profile the paper’s last author Eske Willerslev, who headed the project and found the lock of hair in a Copenhagen museum basement — fruitless search among the archaeological sites of Peary Land. [News Feature p. 724]

Nature Volume 463 Issue 7282

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