With next-gen sequencing, researchers are peering further back in time by examining the genomes of long-dead cave bears and horses, writes Ben Riley-Smith at the UK’s Telegraph. Researchers, he notes, have studied horses that roamed what is now Canada some 780,000 years ago as well as bears from a Spain of 400,000 years ago.
“The genomes reconstructed are more than 10 times older than anything achieved in the past and are lively to trigger a wave of new research in the field,” Riley-Smith says. He adds that the Pleistocene was the time of enormous animals that included 20-foot long ground sloths, 9-foot beavers, and 10-foot deer. It was also the time of ancient humans like Homo erectus, though Neandertals may also get a look.
"There are a lot of samples [of Neandertals] so we can now start looking at them in detail, including how their genes have been passed down to modern humans," adds Erika Hagelberg from Oslo University.