Curtin academic involvement with Nature viking study

Posted 18 September 2020

In a study published in Nature, ancient DNA was analysed from more than 400 Viking skeletons from archaeological sites across Europe and Greenland, providing answers to long-standing historical questions about Viking origin. Using specially adapted techniques for old and degraded DNA, direct genetic evidence was found to support the expansions and long-distance voyages during the Viking era. Further, previously unknown genetic connections with Southern Europe and Asia were uncovered through evidence of people migrating across Europe in the centuries preceding the Viking era; people the Vikings subsequently mixed with. The study highlights how these powerful new molecular methods can provide remarkable insights into the past, and add to the understanding of present day human populations and our shared history.

This study and another published recently in Science were authored by a large team of international researchers that included Professor Morten Allentoft, a recent recruit to Curtin University. Professor Allentoft’s new role will see him leading the Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) lab where his extensive expertise in working with ancient DNA and population genomics will be refocused at Curtin to study the evolution and distribution of Australian biodiversity. In working on ancient material such as animal bones, environmental DNA and large genomic datasets obtained from modern and extinct species, new and exciting insights await into the evolution of Australia’s remarkable biodiversity and its changes through time .