Scrapheap Challenge: A novel bulk-bone metabarcoding method to investigate ancient DNA in faunal assemblages

Daithi Murray, James Haile, Joseph Dortch, Nicole White, Dalal Haouchar, Matthew Bellgard, Richard Allcock, Gavin Prideaux, Michael Bunce

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    39 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Highly fragmented and morphologically indistinct fossil bone is common in archaeological and paleontological deposits but unfortunately it is of little use in compiling faunal assemblages. The development of a cost-effective methodology to taxonomically identify bulk bone is therefore a key challenge. Here, an ancient DNA methodology using high-throughput sequencing is developed to survey and analyse thousands of archaeological bones from southwest Australia. Fossils were collectively ground together depending on which of fifteen stratigraphical layers they were excavated from. By generating fifteen synthetic blends of bulk bone powder, each corresponding to a chronologically distinct layer, samples could be collectively analysed in an efficient manner. A diverse range of taxa, including endemic, extirpated and hitherto unrecorded taxa, dating back to c.46,000 years BP was characterized. The method is a novel, cost-effective use for unidentifiable bone fragments and a powerful molecular tool for surveying fossils that otherwise end up on the taxonomic "scrapheap".

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3371
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalScientific Reports
    Volume3
    Issue number3371
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2013

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    Murray, D., Haile, J., Dortch, J., White, N., Haouchar, D., Bellgard, M., Allcock, R., Prideaux, G., & Bunce, M. (2013). Scrapheap Challenge: A novel bulk-bone metabarcoding method to investigate ancient DNA in faunal assemblages. Scientific Reports, 3(3371), 1-8. [3371]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep03371