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No Dinosaurs for BioArCh

Posted on 13 October 2012

DNA degradation rate in bone finally measured

A team of scientists including Matthew Collins and David Harker of the SYNTHESYS 2 project have measured the rate of DNA degradation in of fossil bone for the first time.  This data is critical to modelling the survivial of DNA in archaeological bone and central to the concept of thermal age.  The data suggests a half-life (the time it takes to destroy half the DNA), is 521 years at 13 degrees centigrade.  The team estimate that even at minus 5 degrees centigrade the sequences would be lost in less than 7 million years. 

David and Matthew have now built a calculator using the new rates which allows you predict the likely fragment length in any bone at any time in last 800,000 years. 

To find more about the article published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B or, to play with the calculator which uses the new data go to

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