At its core, genetics is a historical discipline. Mutations are passed on from generation to generation and accumulate as a result of chance as well as of selection within and between populations and species. However, until recently, geneticists were confined to the study of present-day genetic variation and could only indirectly make inferences about the historical processes that resulted in the variation in present-day gene pools. This “time trap” has now been overcome thanks to the ability to analyze DNA extracted from ancient remains, and this is about to revolutionize several aspects of genetics.
- Received February 2, 2016.
- Accepted February 10, 2016.
- Copyright © 2016 by the Genetics Society of America