Here is an interesting bit of information on some of the results obtained by researchers from the Ancient Biomolecules Centre (Oxford University) and by colleagues from other countries.
Quite exciting on (or "in" ?) their own right, the preliminary results of this ongoing research are unfortunately given (by the New Scientist and the BBC – see below) a media “spin” that, unless I am completely wrong, results primarily from journalistic (I’ll call it, to be nice) ignorant over-enthusiasm. (By the way, aren’t these people suppose to have fact-finders or checkers ?).
What I am referring to, here, are the grossly, over inflated statements to the effect that this kind of molecular based research has solved (among other things) the “mystery” of the extinction of the megafauna (Mammoth Fauna) at the end of the Ice Age. All it does (in the context of palaeoenvironmental studies) is that it brings confirmation and, hopefully, adds a new type of resolution to many of the conclusions that have already been suggested by, or reached through many other investigative approaches. This is what interdisciplinarity is all about: a concept that, clearly, has yet to be fully understood and assimilated by many so-called science writers or (perhaps) their editors.
This said, we should all keep a close eye on the work carried out by these people.
Eske Willerslev, Anders J. Hansen, Jonas Binladen, Tina B. Brand, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Beth Shapiro, Mike Bunce, Carsten Wiuf, David A. Gilichinsky, and Alan Cooper. 2003. Diverse Plant and Animal Genetic Records from Holocene and Pleistocene Sediments. Science Express Reports, (published online April 17 2003; 10.1126/science.1084114).
The actual (short) Science paper can be read HERE
for the New Scientist piece, click CLICK HERE
for the BBC blurb, have a look HERE
for an overview of the research carried out by the Oxford (Biomolecules) research centre, click HERE