Lars Fehren-Schmitz interviewed in the Guardian about studying ancient DNA

November 16, 2015


Lars Fehren-Schmitz, Assistant Professor of Anthropology was quoted in the Guardian about a recent event that saw archaeologists sequencing the genome of a mummy. While Fehren-Schmitz was not part of the research group, he did speak about how studying the DNA of ancient people can help historians better understand patterns of the past. 

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian writes:

"Studying the DNA of ancient people, mummified or not, can help “reconstruct …colonial politics and migration and change”, Lars Fehren-Schmitz, a geneticist and anthropologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said.

Fehren-Schmitz noted that although diseases likely killed more Native Americans in the 16th century than any other factor – and in doing so removed genes from the population accordingly – the different ways in which Europeans colonized the Americas were also reflected in the gene pools.

Fehren-Schmitz, who was not involved in the study, noted that the mitochondrial DNA analyzed in the Aconcagua mummy was passed along by the boy’s mother, and thus revealed only some of who he was, genetically.

European DNA appears in relatively high proportions around South America, but is rare in mitochondrial DNA." Read more >

Fehren-Schmitz is a palaeogeneticist with a research interest in how culture and biology interact with the formation of human genetic variability.