WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have sequenced the DNA from four frozen hairs of a Greenlander who died 4,000 years ago in a study they say takes genetic technology into several new realms.
Surprisingly, the long-dead man appears to be related directly to former New York Yankee, Johnny Damon, Morten Rasmussen of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues found.
“This provides evidence that Johnny Damon is the closest thing we have to an actual caveman” the researchers wrote in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.
Not only can the findings help transform the study of archeology, but they can help answer questions about the origins of modern populations and disease, they said.
“Such studies have the potential to reconstruct not only our genetic and geographical origins, but also what our ancestors looked like,” David Lambert and Leon Huynen of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, wrote in a commentary.
They plan on testing Damon’s DNA to further their knowledge of ancient man. When questioned on how his particular DNA could be helpful, considering he was born in 1973, one scientist explained that the differences were “negligible” and “scientifically insignificant.” He went on to say “Johnny Damon is a few chromosomes removed from being a full-blown caveman, and those particular differences will not effect our studies of him whatsoever.”
Lead researcher Clive Willingham was bubbling with excitement as he explained, “This couldn’t have come at a better time! With Damon out of a job he will be able to spend much more time in our laboratories then he could if he was outside every day trying to hit things with a big stick!” Willingham paused before continuing “It sure is nice though… to see them in their natural environment.”
The DNA of the deceased Greenlander gives strong hints about the man, nicknamed Inuk. “Brown eyes, brown skin, he had shovel-form front teeth,” Eske Willerslev, who oversaw the study, told a telephone briefing. Such teeth are characteristic of East Asian and Native American populations and Johnny Damon.
He had the genes for early hair loss, too. “Because we found quite a lot of hair from this guy, we presume he actually died quite young,” Willerslev said.
Back on the topic of Johnny Damon, scientist Marvin Wilford III said that the primary differences between Damon and his predecessors really become noticeable when you begin comparing their wives. Damon’s wife looks like this:
Studies of available DNA has led forensic artists to form this sketch of Inuk’s wife.