News of the WeekPALEOBIOLOGY

A Fruitful Scoop for Ancient DNA

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Science  17 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5375, pp. 319
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5375.319b

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On page 402, a team at the University of Munich demonstrates a way to unlock DNA trapped inside ancient feces. The dung they studied, left by an extinct ground sloth about 20,000 years ago, offers clues to that species' diet, raising hopes that the technique could provide a wealth of clues about the ecology and relationships of extinct animals--and perhaps even about early humans.