Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FINDER (Fossil Fingerprinting and Identification of New Denisovan remains from Pleistocene Asia)
Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31
FINDER (www.finderc.org) employs modern analytical techniques to address the accute lack of human fossils in the prehistoric record of Eurasia over the past 200,000 years. The project’s main goal is to identify new Denisovan, Neanderthal and early modern human bones. We apply peptide mass fingerprinting (also known as ZooMS –Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) on large numbers of morphologically undiagnostic bone fragments thought to aiming to detect human bones. These are then analysed using ancient DNA and radiocarbon dating, which enable full genomic characterization and their age to be determined.
In addition to the analytical work, the team has been working on the developmental and data dissemination fronts. We have been setting up new ZooMS labs in parts of the world where such facilities did not previously exist. Several volunteers have participated in the FINDER endeavour so far helping us with the laborious aspects of the project. We have engaged with the academic community, via a series of publications and conference participation, and have interacted with the public via public lectures, museum events, and social media. This direct transfer of knowledge and engagement with academia and the public alike, highlight the great contribution of the ERC not only to research questions tantalising scientists for decades, but also to society more generally.