NEXT MEETING: 6:00 PM, Wednesday, November 20, 2019: GCAS general meeting at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City, New Mexico. No potluck dinner, but light refreshments provided. After the meeting, our Featured Speaker, the GCAS's very own Greg Conlin, will speak about what lies "Beyond Machu Picchu: a Travelogue of Pre-Columbian Architecture in Peru."

NEXT FIELD TRIP = Sunday, November 3, 2019: Fort Bowie, Arizona. MEET FIRST at 10:00 AM sharp at the Tyrone parking lot near the US Post Office building on Highway 90. The convoy will then drive about 2 hours to the Fort Bowie National Historic Site via Highway 90 to Lordsburg > I-10 West > Exit 362 to Apache Pass Road, to meet at the trailhead for lunch at about noon. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS AT 2AM ON SUNDAY NOVEMBER 3, SO NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA RETURN TO THE SAME TIME ZONE WHEN THIS FIELD TRIP BEGINS. This is a 3-mile loop trip. Bring lunch and water. More details at the Fort Bowie website.

Science

Still More DNA News

image from c8.alamy.comThe GCAS prefers to restrict our blog posts to the US Southwest/Northwestern Mexico region on this here website, but we always make an exception for advances in DNA technology. From a Washington Post article dated March 15, 2019:

"One day about 200 years ago, a woman enslaved on a tobacco plantation near Annapolis tossed aside the broken stem of the clay pipe she was smoking in the slave quarters where she lived....the stem bore marks where she had clenched it in her teeth as she worked. But the stem bore something else she could never have imagined: her DNA.

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The Oldest Known Plant Virus Is in Ancestral Puebloan Corn

image from alchetron.com image from www.americansouthwest.netResearchers at Penn State reported a few months ago that they have isolated a 1000-year-old plant virus - a chrysovirus - from corncobs recovered from the Antelope House Ruin in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. This chrysovirus is not just the first chrysovirus found in corn, but it is the oldest plant virus scientists have found to date. [Antelope House image via americansouthwest.net; virus image via alchetron.com]

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New Techniques in the Study of Human Remains

image from abm-website-assets.s3.amazonaws.comResearchers have discovered that a certain protein in tooth enamel comes from a sex-specific gene. Scientists at the University of California/Davis have taken that discovery and developed a technique by which they can determine the gender of human remains even if only a single tooth is all that is recovered. Details are in this recent article in Archaeology magazine.

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DNA Sequencing Applied to Non-Human Remains

This final post in our DNA trilogy concerns how the genetic analysis of non-human remains enhances the archaeologist's understanding of the past human culture they are investigating. And sometimes opens more and unexpected avenues of research to pursue.

image from upload.wikimedia.orgArchaeologists have studied the remains of 14 scarlet macaws recently unearthed from five different New Mexico sites including Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres region. Macaws' feathers were highly valued not just by the macaws themselves, but by Ancestral Puebloans and other cultures throughout the US Southwest.

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DNA Sequencing in Chaco Canyon

This article via Western Digs is a year-and-a-half old, but it discusses the application of DNA technology image from www.pnas.org to burials that are much closer to the GCAS's home than Denisova cave.

The burials were found in Room 33, aka the Gambler's House, of Pubelo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. [Figure on right via Stephen Plog and Carrie Heitman, Hierarchy and Social Inequality in the American Southwest, A.D. 800-1200.]

From the Western Digs article: "They were interred in what’s been described as “the richest burial known in the Southwest” — 14 men and women buried over the course of 330 years in the same crypt, some accompanied by pieces of pottery and pendants, others lavished with thousands of turquoise and shell beads....And new analysis of DNA from the 14 sets of remains shows that these elites weren’t merely members of the same influential class — indeed, they were all members of the same extended family, a “dynasty” that traced its ancestry to a single woman...."

Webmaster says check it out!

/s/ webmaster


Current Issues in DNA Sequencing

image from d1o50x50snmhul.cloudfront.netOrdinarily this GCAS blog emphasizes topics that are directly related to our particular geographic area. However, this article via The Atlantic, about recent anthropological discoveries in the Denisova cave in Siberia, is relevant to us because it illustrates how DNA technology is impelling scientists to change their assumptions about how archaic and modern humans migrated, and how they interacted with the groups they encountered.

[Above photo: Excavation works in the East Chamber of Denisova Cave, Russia; by Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology]

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