Biomolecular analyses reveal the age, sex and species identity of a near-intact Pleistocene bird carcass.


Centre for Palaeogenetics, Svante Arrhenius väg 20C, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden. [Email]


Ancient remains found in permafrost represent a rare opportunity to study past ecosystems. Here, we present an exceptionally well-preserved ancient bird carcass found in the Siberian permafrost, along with a radiocarbon date and a reconstruction of its complete mitochondrial genome. The carcass was radiocarbon dated to approximately 44-49 ka BP, and was genetically identified as a female horned lark. This is a species that usually inhabits open habitat, such as the steppe environment that existed in Siberia at the time. This near-intact carcass highlights the potential of permafrost remains for evolutionary studies that combine both morphology and ancient nucleic acids.

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