Published: Monday 31 July 1995

Texas A&M University researchers have reported finding DNA traces in the pigment used in 3,000-4,000 year old cave paintings discovered in Texas (Science, Vol 268, No 5210).

Paint samples were analysed using the polymerase chain reaction to amplify a section of DNA. The researchers eliminated the possibility of later day bacterial contamination and are confident that the DNA is most likely from a bison.

Because bison were not found in the region in that era, the painters must have gone through a lot of trouble to procure the pigment, suggesting that the cave paintings may have a broader significance than just adornments of dreary dwellings.

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