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Author Topic: A different take on the DNA  (Read 11740 times)

Monty Fowler

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A different take on the DNA
« on: March 12, 2011, 05:58:29 AM »

I think something that has been lost in the "letdown" over the perceived lack of progress in extracting useable DNA from the finger bone found at the 7 site is the fact that a human being's bone was found at the 7 site.

So we now know, for sure, that someone died there. That, to me, is huge.

Sure, at this stage, it could have been anyone. Maybe a native lost a fingertip in a coconut planting accident or while cutting brush. Maybe a Coast Guardsman shot a fingertip off while target shooting. Heck, maybe Gallagher mangled himself somehow while looking for Amelia. Or maybe, just maybe, it belongs to one of the two people we hope it belongs to.

Regardless, it is the remains of a human being. In a place where there is no immediately logical explanation for the remains of a human being to be, other than the one TIGHAR is proposing. And that, to me, is huge.

Monty Fowler,

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« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 06:00:23 AM by Monty Fowler »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2011, 11:26:25 AM »

I feel no "letdown" over the current state of the DNA investigations.  We knew that extracting and sequencing ancient DNA would be iffy and time consuming. The hype about the finger bone wasn't our idea.  Discovery rang that bell to help build an audience for the television show and it worked better than they expected. They created unrealistic anticipation for immediate results which, of course, created huge disappointment when immediate results were not forthcoming.  We're frankly delighted that the lab has been able to learn as much as it has and we're hopeful that we'll learn more.

To be clear, we still don't know whether the finger bone is human or turtle. The scales seem to tip toward human but we can't yet say for sure. 
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Ken Vincent

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2011, 04:40:49 PM »

I read the latest update with a great deal of excitement.  I do find the "fecal material" findings to be somewhat more interesting/exciting then the "bone" findings, I think more potential information could be contained in the fecal material.  I have been following Tighar for years and the last time I remember something this exciting is when the "bones documents" were found detailing the 13 bones and sextant box. 
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John Kada

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2011, 10:53:26 PM »

As I mentioned in my posts in the Artifacts Analysis section of this forum under the subject heading 'Isotope analysis of the bone fragments', strontium isotopic analysis of a small portion of the turtle/human bone fragments could tell us something about the geographic origins of those bones. Such analyses would be, I suspect, fairly inexpensive compared to DNS analysis and would only require a small portion of what remains from the DNA analysis. Analyze the bone fragments and a few of the large stock of fish, bird and turtle, if any bones that were recoved from Niku. I would expect the fish, bird and turtle bones to closely match the Sr isotopic composition of the sea, as the sea id the origin of the food those creatures would have eaten. If the bone fragment has a Sr isotopic content significantly different than the seawater value then the bones are likely from a human, and a human whose food supply wasn't dominantly based upon marine food sources. That wouldn't conclusively prove that the bones were AE or FN, but it would certainly be additional evidence suggesting that it was them, or at least some other person who lived somewhere other than a coral reef environment.
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Ted G Campbell

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2011, 07:18:18 PM »

It seems to me that one would want to conduct a DNA test on the ample number of turtle bones TIGHAR has on hand and compare the results to that obtained from the bones recently found.  It would not prove the bones found on the last outing where AE's or FN's but it surely would tell us if the bone was human or turtle.
Ted Campbell
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2011, 08:28:11 PM »

It seems to me that one would want to conduct a DNA test on the ample number of turtle bones TIGHAR has on hand and compare the results to that obtained from the bones recently found.  It would not prove the bones found on the last outing where AE's or FN's but it surely would tell us if the bone was human or turtle.

The problem is we have not yet gotten enough DNA from the bones to compare it to anything.  Think of ancient DNA as a very tattered book.  All we have at this point are tiny scraps of paper with a few letters.  We know the scraps are from a book but we don't have enough to tell whether the book is written in English (human) or French (turtle). 
I'll bet you didn't know that turtles speak French.
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Brad Beeching

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Re: A different take on the DNA
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2011, 04:23:59 AM »

So much for humor.... Monty, I truly beg your pardon, you are correct, some poor soul battled for life on that island. Whether it was who we think it was or not makes no difference, someone died a lonely death waiting for a rescue that never came. If nothing else comes of the search on Niku, just piecing the story of the castaway together makes a great story by itself.

Brad
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