Scientists have pieced together most of the DNA of a man who lived in Greenland about 4,000 years ago, a feat that revealed hints about his appearance and even an increased risk of baldness.
It's the first genome from an ancient human, showing potential for what one expert called a time machine for learning about the biology of ancient people.
Analysis suggests the Greenland man probably had type A-positive blood, brown eyes, darker skin than most Europeans, a boosted chance of going bald and several biological adaptations for weathering a cold climate, researchers report in today's issue of the journal Nature.
The DNA indicated the man had dark, thick hair - a trait the scientists observed directly, as that's where the genetic material came from, a tuft of hair excavated in 1986 from permafrost.
Comparisons of his DNA with that of present-day Arctic peoples shed light on the origins of the man's cultural group, the Saqqaq, the earliest known culture to settle in Greenland. Results suggest his ancestors migrated from Siberia some 5,500 years ago. The analysis shows the Saqqaq were not direct ancestors of today's Inuits or Native Americans, said Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, an author of the paper. - AP