Biomolecular analyses reveal the age, sex and species identity of a near-intact Pleistocene bird carcass

Commun Biol. 2020 Feb 21;3(1):84. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-0806-7.


Ancient remains found in permafrost represent a rare opportunity to study past ecosystems. Here, we present an exceptionally well-preserved ancient bird carcass found in the Siberian permafrost, along with a radiocarbon date and a reconstruction of its complete mitochondrial genome. The carcass was radiocarbon dated to approximately 44-49 ka BP, and was genetically identified as a female horned lark. This is a species that usually inhabits open habitat, such as the steppe environment that existed in Siberia at the time. This near-intact carcass highlights the potential of permafrost remains for evolutionary studies that combine both morphology and ancient nucleic acids.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Determination by Skeleton / methods
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Birds* / classification
  • Birds* / genetics
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Ecosystem
  • Female
  • Fossils* / anatomy & histology
  • Fossils* / pathology
  • Genetic Techniques* / veterinary
  • Genetics, Population
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis
  • History, Ancient
  • Male
  • Paleontology
  • Permafrost
  • Phylogeny
  • Radiometric Dating
  • Sex Determination Analysis / methods
  • Sex Determination Analysis / veterinary
  • Siberia