Mark Evans tracks down remains of some of history's most important and infamous figures, and uses cutting-edge DNA analysis to find out more about what made them who they were.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Dead Famous DNA - Ancient DNA - Netflix
Ancient DNA (aDNA) is DNA isolated from ancient specimens. There is no definitive age to define historic or ancient DNA, but includes genetic material recovered from archaeological and historical skeletal material, mummified tissues, archival collections of non-frozen medical specimens, preserved plant remains, ice and permafrost cores as well as marine and lake sediments. Due to degradation processes (including cross-linking, deamination and fragmentation) ancient DNA is of lower quality in comparison with modern genetic material. The damage characteristics and ability of aDNA to survive through time restricts possible analyses and places an upper limit on the age of successful samples Allentoft et al. (2012). There is a theoretical relationship between time and DNA degradation, although differences in environmental conditions complicates things. Samples subjected to different conditions are unlikely to predictably align to a uniform age-degradation relationship. The environmental effects may even matter after excavation, as DNA decay rates may increase, particularly under fluctuating storage conditions. Even under the best preservation conditions, there is an upper boundary of 0.4-1.5 million years for a sample at around to contain sufficient DNA for contemporary sequencing technologies. Research into the decay of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in Moa bones has modelled mitochondrial DNA degradation to an average length of 1 base pair after 6,830,000 years at −5 °C. The decay kinetics have been measured by accelerated aging experiments further displaying the strong influence of storage temperature and humidity on DNA decay. Nuclear DNA degrades at least twice as fast as mtDNA. As such, early studies that reported recovery of much older DNA, for example from Cretaceous dinosaur remains, may have stemmed from contamination of the sample.
Dead Famous DNA - Researchers specializing in ancient DNA - Netflix
Dead Famous DNA - References - Netflix