In their ongoing effort to hasten an apocalypse full of blunt-force trauma and split brain pans, scientists in Denmark say they have successfully extracted 1,000-year-old DNA from a group of Vikings “buried” on a remote island.
I put “buried” in quotes because it implies that these Vikings did not intentionally crawl underground simply to lay in wait for a thousand years.
Anyway, these researchers say the Viking samples gave them an opportunity to try new techniques for preserving and capturing ancient DNA samples:
To recover the Viking samples, the researchers took extra-special care. Before removing the last layer of dirt from the skeletons, they donned full-body biohazard gear — and this was merely the first step through a gauntlet of sterility that might have been invented by a demented Mr. Clean. Afterwards they compared the recovered DNA to a database of present-day DNA types, just to make sure it didn’t come from anyone born this side of the Dark Ages — and it didn’t.
Finally, to quantify what sort of contamination is produced by standard operating procedures, they had eight samples taken according to current (less stringent) handling practices. Four of these picked up stray DNA, underscoring the importance of cleanliness in studying ancient genetic material.
Wired reports that the DNA is not terribly interesting in terms of population genetics. I report that the hipster glasses-wearing techno-geeks at Wired will be the first to be cleft in twain by the reanimated corpses of the awakened zombie Vikings.
As for the rest of you — you guys are fucked, too.
Me? I’ve got a fridge full of smoked salmon and pickled herring in dill cream sauce, and I speak at least 15 words of Norwegian. Ambassador Arcana. I like the sound of that!