CARTA Glossary

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31 defined words for "Ancient DNA and Human Evolution". To see all CARTA defined words, please view the complete glossary.

Word Definition Related Vocabulary

Evolution of a phenotype by selection because it improved reproduction and/or survival.


Arranging related sequences by position.


Alternative DNA sequence at the same locus (location on the chromosome)

Archaic admixture

DNA from ancient, divergent, and now extinct populations found in current people.


An archaeological site in Spain with fossils and stone tools of the earliest known hominins in Western Europe.


A complex of DNA and proteins (histone and adaptor proteins) forming chromosomes.


Making a copy of an organism or sequence.
Organisms are cloned by moving an entire genome from a cell into an egg. DNA sequences are cloned by moving copies into a bacteria using a vector.


Time since common ancestor.

Coalescent Theory

Models evolution backward in time to infer historical population size, mutation rate, allele age, and allele frequency change by selection and drift.


The number of reads for a given locus.


Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. A method that can mutate a specified locus.


Study of population size over time.

Dental Calculus

Calcified dental plaque, provides information on diet, disease, health, microbiome and protects the genetic information within the tooth from degradation.


Change in genetic content or phenotype between isolated populations or species.

Effective Population Size (Ne)

The size of an idealized population (random mating, no selection, mutation or migration) with the same rate of genetic drift as the study population.

Genetic Drift

Change in allele frequencies, including fixation and loss, by chance.

Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS)

An approach for “gene mapping” in which hundreds of thousands of SNPs are tested statistically for genetic associations with a phenotype.


Characterizing genetic variants at one or more loci.


Have two different alleles at a locus.


Similarity in DNA or phenotype because of shared evolutionary history from a common ancestor.


Similarity in DNA sequence or phenotype that has evolved independently.


An insertion or deletion of a DNA sequence.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

A method of copying a specified locus.


Reading the order of nucleotides in DNA.


Sequencing cuts the genome into short chunks that are read and reassembled by a computer.

Silent Mutations

No change to the phenotype.


A population whose individuals can mate with one another to produce viable and fertile offspring. This is a debated definition and the concept is problematic for extinct fossil organisms for which DNA is not available. This definition is problematic in regard to bacteria as they can exchange genetic material across widely separate taxa.

Synonymous/Non-synonymous Mutations

No change to the protein; changes to protein, respectively.


The first step in gene expression during which the nucleotide sequence of DNA is transcribed into an RNA molecule that can ultimately be translated into protein.

Transposable elements (TE)

DNA sequence that can change its position within a genome, sometimes creating or reversing mutations and altering the cell’s genetic identity and genome size. They can also be referred to as “jumping genes”. They were discovered by Barbara McClintock and she earned the Nobel Prize in 1983 for that discovery. These sequences can be considered a type of “molecular parasite” within the genome.


DNA molecule used to direct the replication of a cloned DNA fragment (“insert”) in a host cell.