Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dennis Van Gerven

Second Advisor

Darna Dufour

Third Advisor

Herbert Covert


The field of ancient DNA began in 1984 with the sequencing of quagga—an extinct member of the horse family—DNA and the development of PCR (Higuchi et al., 1984). Since then, ancient DNA has been used in physical anthropology. Ancient DNA has a variety of applications in anthropology including phylogentic relationships and human evolution, movement and migration, the study of hominin ancestors, sex determination, agriculture, animal domestication, nutrition, diseases, historical kinships, and primate conservation. In particular aDNA technology has given anthropologists the opportunity to study the history and pre-history of the agricultural expansion in the Pacific as well as the ability to learn more about the Neanderthals: what their mitochondrial genome was like, how much their genome differed from the modern human genome, their pigmentation, and their position in hominin phylogeny.