In forensic science there are many types of crime that involve animals. Therefore, the identification of the species has become an essential investigative tool. The exhibits obtained from such offences are very often a challenge for forensic experts. Indeed, most biological materials are traces, hair or tanned fur. With hair samples, a common forensic approach should proceed from morphological and structural microscopic examination to DNA analysis. However, the microscopy of hair requires a lot of experience and a suitable comparative database to be able to recognize with a high degree of accuracy that a sample comes from a particular species and then to determine whether it is a protected one. DNA analysis offers the best opportunity to answer the question, 'What species is this?' In our work, we analyzed different samples of fur coming from China used to make hats and collars. Initially, the samples were examined under a microscope, then the mitochondrial DNA was tested for species identification. For this purpose, the genetic markers used were the 12S and 16S ribosomal RNA, while the hypervariable segment I of the control region was analyzed afterwards, to determine whether samples belonged to the same individual.
Bones, teeth and hair are often the only physical evidence of human or animal presence at an archaeological site; they are also the most widely used sources of samples for ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis. Unfortunately, the DNA extracted from ancient samples, already scarce and highly degraded, is widely susceptible to exogenous contaminations that can affect the reliability of aDNA studies. We evaluated the molecular effects of sample handling on five human skeletons freshly excavated from a cemetery dated between the 11 to the 14(th) century. We collected specimens from several skeletal areas (teeth, ribs, femurs and ulnas) from each individual burial. We then divided the samples into two different sets: one labeled as "virgin samples" (i.e. samples that were taken by archaeologists under contamination-controlled conditions and then immediately sent to the laboratory for genetic analyses), and the second called "lab samples"(i.e. samples that were handled without any particular precautions and subject to normal washing, handling and measuring procedures in the osteological lab). Our results show that genetic profiles from "lab samples" are incomplete or ambiguous in the different skeletal areas while a different outcome is observed in the "virgin samples" set. Generally, all specimens from different skeletal areas in the exception of teeth present incongruent results between "lab" and "virgin" samples. Therefore teeth are less prone to contamination than the other skeletal areas we analyzed and may be considered a material of choice for classical aDNA studies. In addition, we showed that bones can also be a good candidate for human aDNA analysis if they come directly from the excavation site and are accompanied by a clear taphonomic history.
The high frequency (around 0.70 worldwide) and the relatively young age (between 14,000 and 62,000 years) of a derived group of haplotypes, haplogroup D, at the microcephalin (MCPH1) locus led to the proposal that haplogroup D originated in a human lineage that separated from modern humans >1 million years ago, evolved under strong positive selection, and passed into the human gene pool by an episode of admixture circa 37,000 years ago. The geographic distribution of haplogroup D, with marked differences between Africa and Eurasia, suggested that the archaic human form admixing with anatomically modern humans might have been Neanderthal.
The available mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data do not point to clear genetic relationships between current Tuscans and the Bronze-Age inhabitants of Tuscany, the Etruscans. To understand how and when such a genetic discontinuity may have arisen, we extracted and typed the mtDNAs of 27 medieval Tuscans from an initial sample of 61, spanning a period between the 10th and 15th century AD. We then tested by serial coalescent simulation various models describing the genealogical relationships among past and current inhabitants of Tuscany, the latter including three samples (from Murlo, Volterra, and Casentino) that were recently claimed to be of Etruscan descent. Etruscans and medieval Tuscans share three mitochondrial haplotypes but fall in distinct branches of the mitochondrial genealogy in the only model that proved compatible with the data. Under that model, contemporary people of Tuscany show clear genetic relationships with Medieval people, but not with the Etruscans, along the female lines. No evidence of excess mutation was found in the Etruscan DNAs by a Bayesian test, and so there is no reason to suspect that these results are biased by systematic contamination of the ancient sequences or laboratory artefacts. Extensive demographic changes before AD 1000 are thus the simplest explanation for the differences between the contemporary and the Bronze-Age mtDNAs of Tuscany. Accordingly, genealogical continuity between ancient and modern populations of the same area does not seem a safe general assumption, but rather a hypothesis that, when possible, should be tested using ancient DNA analysis.
The present day distribution of Y chromosomes bearing the haplogroup J1 M267(*)G variant has been associated with different episodes of human demographic history, the main one being the diffusion of Islam since the Early Middle Ages. To better understand the modes and timing of J1 dispersals, we reconstructed the genealogical relationships among 282 M267(*)G chromosomes from 29 populations typed at 20 YSTRs and 6 SNPs. Phylogenetic analyses depicted a new genetic background consistent with climate-driven demographic dynamics occurring during two key phases of human pre-history: (1) the spatial expansion of hunter gatherers in response to the end of the late Pleistocene cooling phases and (2) the displacement of groups of foragers/herders following the mid-Holocene rainfall retreats across the Sahara and Arabia. Furthermore, J1 STR motifs previously used to trace Arab or Jewish ancestries were shown unsuitable as diagnostic markers for ethnicity.
Both stereoisomer of hydroxyethylamine (HEA) and hydroxyethylsulfide (HES) transition-state isostere inhibitors of BACE-1 were synthesized. The syn-HEA epimer resulted always more active than the anti stereoisomer independently from the P(1) and the P(1) substituents. On the contrary, the anti epimer of the HES isostere resulted more active than the syn stereoisomer. The change of stereopreference was studied by molecular modelling.
It has been recorded that one of the possible causes that eventually escalated into the 1857 manslaughter at Mountain Meadows in Southern Utah was the poisoning of an open spring by the Fancher-Baker party as they crossed the Utah territory on their way from Arkansas to California. Historical accounts report that a number of cattle died, followed by human casualties from those that came in contact with the dead animals. Even after the Arkansas party departed, animals continued to perish and people were still afflicted by some unknown plague. Proctor Hancock Robison, a local 14-year-old boy, died shortly after skinning one of the "poisoned" cows. A careful review of the historical records, along with the more recent scientific literature, seems to exclude the likelihood of actual poisoning in favor of a more recent theory that would point to the bacterium Bacillus anthracis as the possible cause of human and animal deaths. In order to test this hypothesis, Proctors remains were exhumed, identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis, and tested for the presence of anthrax spores. Although preliminary testing of remains and soil was negative, description of the clinical conditions that affected Proctor and other individuals does not completely rule out the hypothesis of death by anthrax.
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