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A title to include the word “baa”

File this under d’oh — why didn’t I think of that? Important documents have been written on parchment for thousands of years, right? Some still are. Parchment is made from the skin of cows, goats and sheep, right? We’ve got millions and millions of ’em. In the case of many documents, with actual dates written on.

In other words, stuff that can be DNA sampled!

Eh? Eh? Millions of precisely dated DNA samples going back millenia. What an awesome reservoir of information! I mean, if you think the evolution of domestic animals is interesting (and who doesn’t?).

If you’re at all interested (and who isn’t?) have a look at the Royal Society’s longer explanation of some of the ongoing studies. Good stuff.

Some samples, for example, show the DNA of several species…meaning that a variety of different animal hides were being batch-processed. Thereby telling us a little bit about industrial production methods.

Selective breeding didn’t start until the 18th C in Britain and, apparently, the shift from somewhat random characteristics to breeding for specifics is showing up the in the record.

Oh, and the Dead Sea scrolls were written on ibex and goat skin.

By the way, if you hit the Society link and are fascinated (as I was) by the thumbnail in the sidebar, the cover of the January 2015 Philosophical Transactions, I am sorry to tell you that is a photo of a pile of bones, not the skull of a single fabulous monster. Boo.


Comment from Nina
Time: December 11, 2014, 3:20 am

I looooove things like this. I’m a science teacher. So sue me.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: December 11, 2014, 4:39 am

“Well, these samples from the 2nd century BC show signs of selective breeding, so they must be forgeries.”

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: December 11, 2014, 4:40 am

I like it too, Nina. A smart novelist could glean some great plot ideas from DNA’d parchment.

Comment from caseyreno
Time: December 11, 2014, 7:16 pm

Stoaty, maybe this is Maggie’s replacement?

Polish Buff Laced Chicken

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 11, 2014, 9:35 pm

That is a beautiful bird, casey. I don’t think I’d give her to Violence as a target of opportunity. They say you can’t mix silkies — the ones with the long, hair-like feathers — in with non-silkies because they get pecked balk.

We’re thinking very carefully about our next acquisitions and whether we dare try to duplicate the colors of the departed. We’ve kind of exhausted the easily available Pekins ’round here.

Comment from MikeW
Time: December 12, 2014, 2:51 pm


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