November 13, 2015
Ancient Inca Child Mummy Has DNA Sequenced
Forensic geneticists have sequenced the DNA of a frozen seven year old Inca boy mummy. He was found to have originated far to the north in the Peruvian Andes and belonged to a genetic sub-group of unidentified Paleo-Indians. He was sacrificed 500 years ago in the Inca capacocha ritual, where perfectly unblemished children were offered to the gods by drugging them and letting them freeze in the high mountains. He was found in 1985. He was wrapped in textiles and buried with six statuettes. It is believed his group dates to 12,300 BCE. The genetic lineage of the child is almost extinct today, but his line would have been more frequent in Inca times.
The Daily Mail has the story here with their usual excellent photos and a short video from NatGeo showing another Inca child mummy, a girl, being studied. The preservation is remarkable.
Science Magazine adds that “they will map the complete nuclear genome of the Aconcagua boy and to sequence the DNA of all the microbes preserved in the mummy’s gut, including his microbiome and any infectious germs he might have been carrying. That could help scientists understand how microorganisms—both the ones that hurt us and the ones that help us—have evolved over time. Wilson hopes similar studies can be done on other capacocha mummies.”
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