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In March 2010 German researchers announced that they had managed to extract DNA from the 40,000 year old fossil bone from a child discovered in a Siberian cave and that it didn't match up to the known genetic sequences of either humans or Neanderthals! This news brief examines the evidence in more detail and considers what that evidence might — or might not — mean about such claims.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This article encourages students to reason about scientific data. It includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as a video podcast. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)
- The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.
- All life forms use the same basic DNA building blocks. (LS4.A)
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.
- Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.