Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic methods for sex determination shed some light on remains of Canary Islands' indigenous peoples

Date:
April 30, 2014
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Researchers have applied a new genetic method to analyze archaeological remains that enables the sex of skeletal remains from the indigenous peoples of the island of El Hierro to be determined. This type of work is essential to discover more about ancient communities when the complete skeletons of individuals are not available. Archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic doctors use the bone measurements to know the sex of the skeletal remains they are studying in their investigations. However, this is not an easy job with ancient populations and when the complete skeleton is not available.

Archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic doctors use the bone measurements to know the sex of the skeletal remains they are studying in their investigations. However, this is not an easy job with ancient populations and when the complete skeleton is not available.
Credit: Universidad de La Laguna

Researchers from the University of La Laguna have applied a new genetic method to analyzed archaeological remains that enables the sex of skeletal remains from the indigenous peoples of the island of El Hierro to be determined.. This type of work is essential to discover more about ancient communities when the complete skeletons of individuals are not available.

Related Articles


Archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic doctors use the bone measurements to know the sex of the skeletal remains they are studying in their investigations. However, this is not an easy job with ancient populations and when the complete skeleton is not available.

Researchers from the University of La Laguna (ULL) have applied a new technique based on genetic analysis to determine the sex of these bones of the indigenous peoples of the Canary Islands.

"We have determined the sex by genetic methods on 52 tibias belonging to a pre-hispanic population from the archaeological site of Punta Azul on the Island of El Hierro. The identification of 18 women and 34 men and the subsequent discrimination by combining various anthropometric variables, shows a high precision percentage of 94.2% in the diagnosis," Alejandra Calderón Ordóñez, researcher at the ULL and co-author of the article published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, told SINC.

The anthropometric variables include a series of measurements which, when combined in a mathematical formula, enable the most probable sex to be assigned to incomplete archaeological remains.

"The problem," adds the expert, "is that these functions vary between different populations and between the same populations over time, which means they are not always valid if they are applied to different populations to those for which they were carried out."

Sex determination through genetic procedures, on the other hand, has become a reliable reference technique given that it enables a correct diagnosis that can be compared with the measurable characteristics of male and female bones.

"Sex determination using this procedure is not always possible with all the bones discovered in an excavation given the state of preservation of the remains as well as the high cost involved in the procedure. Despite this, it is an essential tool," she adds.

Measuring tibias and analysing DNA

With the remains from Punta Azul, the researchers used a fragment of the amelogenin gene. As Calderón explains, this gene is present in the X chromosome and in the Y chromosome however, there is a small deletion -- a special type of chromosomal anomaly -- in X, which makes it ideal for sex determination by DNA amplification.

"Taking into account the actual characteristics of the DNA in old remains, an initial real time quantitative analysis of the mitochondrial DNA was taken to verify the state of preservation of the samples," she explained.

Only those in which the mitochondrial DNA could be amplified were selected to analyzed the amelogenin gene. It has been confirmed that if there is no mitochondrial DNA (multiple copies found per cell), the results obtained from a nuclear DNA amplification such as amelogenin are not very reliable.

The amelogenin was analyzedd in 53 of a total of 59 tibias and positive results were obtained in 52. All this shows that the sample was well-preserved.

Also, the tibias were measured and the results were combined with the previous genetic analysis. "This research shows that by studying the amelogenin, discriminant functions can be created for a specific population, which can later be applied to other remains from that same population with a higher degree of reliability," outlined the scientist.

The importance of this lies in proving the usefulness of the amelogenin gene as a standard for gender identification. This opens the door to the creation of new functions for various populations, with different bones and even improving some of those that already exist. The method could be applied to other populations of different ages and ethnic origins.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alejandra C. Ordóñez, M. Arnay-de-la-Rosa, R. Fregel, A. Trujillo-Mederos, J. Pestano, E. González-Reimers. Genetic sexing to determine the optimal discriminant functions for the analysis of archaeological remains from El Hierro (Canary Islands). Journal of Archaeological Science, 2013; 40 (12): 4411 DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.025

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Genetic methods for sex determination shed some light on remains of Canary Islands' indigenous peoples." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430082910.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2014, April 30). Genetic methods for sex determination shed some light on remains of Canary Islands' indigenous peoples. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430082910.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Genetic methods for sex determination shed some light on remains of Canary Islands' indigenous peoples." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430082910.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins