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Old Marks

The epigenome can be detected in some ancient human remains, the New Scientist reports. Following a report last year that DNA methylation could be detected in 26,000-year-old bison bones, the University of Texas at Austin's Rick Smith collected a number of ancient human remains for testing. He presented his work last week at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Knoxville, Tenn., New Scientist adds.

Smith, the New Scientist reports, compared the methylation state of the 30 samples, which ranged in age from 200 years old to 6,000 years old, with samples from modern humans. "Comparison of the methylation patterns with modern humans yielded similarities in 27 of the samples," it adds. Harvard University's Adrian Briggs points out, though, that methylation patterns vary from tissue to tissue and that with only bone samples, the full epigenome of ancient humans won't be able to be constructed.