Learning about the past and where humans came from is one of the biggest scientific mysteries in the world. We weren’t there to study them. In 2010, scientists used a tool to study the past. They “used a hair preserved in permafrost to sequence the genome of a man who lived some 4,000 years ago in what is now Greenland.” It’s fascinating that hair can survive a long time. He says, the hair revealed “the physical traits and even the blood type of a member of one of the first cultures to settle in that part of the world,” according to Smithsonian Mag. This is fascinating, considering how much information they were able to discover from just hair.
Because of this finding, geneticists and anthropologists were able to learn more about the culture of the past than they were previously. Still, it’s challenging to extract ancient DNA like hair or skin. Oftentimes, it’s contaminated with the DNA of microbes from the environment, which taints any findings the scientists might have made. To fight this, scientists also used the petrous bone of the skull, which is a dense bone near the ear to learn more about our ancestors (Smithsonian Mag).