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What is Ancient DNA?

Ancient DNA is the DNA recovered from the remains of an organism that has been dead for tens, hundreds or thousands of years.

Ancient DNA has been found in the remains of extinct plants and animals, Egyptian mummies and even fossilised dung.

Museums, with their vast collections of animal skins and mounted specimens dating from the early 1800's, are huge warehouses of ancient DNA just waiting to be studied.

Mummy in sarcophagus
magnifyMummified body

Finches, chats, robins and wrens
magnifyBird specimens
© Museum Victoria Australia