Hunting the Molecular Past

March 25, 2014Byens Lys Copenhagen
Molecular Past
Doors open: 19:00
Start programme: 20:00
Byens Lys
Fabriksområdet 99

Can we reconstruct the ancient past of human populations via DNA? What about the past of populations of large mammals such as mammoths? What are the new theories and interpretations of human prehistory? Can one resurrect extinct species?

In the past two decades, ancient DNA research has progressed from the retrieval of small fragments of mitochondrial DNA from a few specimens to large-scale studies of ancient populations, reconstructions of past environments, and whole genome sequencing. Increasingly, ancient genetic information is providing a unique means to directly test theories in archaeology, paleontology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Initial results have changed the way we look at long debated topics such as the massive extinction of ice age mammals, early peopling of the Americas and early spread of modern humans outside Africa.

Eske Willerslev will tell us about his theories of large mammal extinction and migration of the human species in prehistoric times based on DNA sequencing of preserved specimens, some of which part of nowadays extinct cultures. In the process, he will cover some of his expeditions to remote places and his quest to find these pieces of evidence.

Afterwards, frozen cocktails mixed up with mammoth oil and drank from mammoth horns while Marc Facchini will present his debut album.

Photo: APA picture alliance / Robert Parigger

Talk by

Eske Willerslev

Danish DNA research and director of the University's Center for Geogenetics in the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen. His research interests include the understanding of why some of the large mammals (such as the mammoth) became extinct during and after the ice age and to develop techniques to extract DNA primarily from discoveries preserved in ice.

Eske Willerslev 2

Music by

Marc Facchini

Marc has been working hard for the last few years, singing/or playing guitar in various folk- and rockbands. His debut-EP as a solo artist will be released in the beginning of March, containing four songs in Danish, inspired by the old folk-tradition when lyrics meant something and chords didn’t mean that much.

Marc Facchini