300-Year-Old DNA Reveals the Origins of Slave Skeletons in Saint Martin

March 10, 2015 12:06 PM

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About 300 years ago, three African-born slaves died on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. For years, though, their fate, their names and their precise background remaineda mystery. Now, though, researchers have extracted and sequenced tiny bits of DNA remaining in the skeletons' teeth to determine where in Africa these individuals lived before they were captured and enslaved.

"Through the barbarism of the middle passage, millions of people were forcibly removed form Africa and brought to the Americas," said Carlos Bustamante, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We have long sought to use DNA to understand who they were, where they came from and who, today, shares...

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