Africa’s Oldest DNA Is Helping Address Science’s Racial Bias

Human history is written in DNA. Where our ancestors lived and who they loved—the story is right there if we can see into their genes. The trouble is that the ravages of climate and time degrade DNA, making its secrets harder and harder to detect. Gradually, however, scientists have begun to peer back through time by sequencing ancient DNA. In 2016, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology pieced together DNA from a skeleton found in a cave in northern Spain. The human ancestor it was from lived more than 430,000 years ago.

Other ancient DNA discoveries have filled in

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