The Promise of Paleogenomics Beyond Our Own Species

Trends Genet. 2019 May;35(5):319-329. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2019.02.006. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Paleogenomics, also known as genome-wide ancient DNA analysis, is transforming our understanding of the human past, but has been much less intensively used to understand the history of other species. However, paleogenomic studies of non-human animals and plants have the potential to address an equally rich range of evolutionary, paleoecological, paleoenvironmental, and archaeological research questions. Three recent case studies of cave bears, horses, and maize provide examples of the ways that paleogenomics can be used to examine potential causes of extinctions and dynamic processes of domestication. Much more research in these areas is needed, and we conclude by highlighting key future directions.

Keywords: cave bear; domestication; horse; maize; paleogenomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA, Ancient
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Geography
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Paleontology* / methods
  • Species Specificity
  • Zea mays / genetics


  • DNA, Ancient