NNMB16000U Ancient DNA, Paleoenvironments, Megafauna and Domestication

Volume 2016/2017

Bachelor Programme in Biology


A general introduction to the study of faunal evolution and paleoenvironments of the late Pleistocene using ancient DNA and other biomolecules. In a series of interactive lectures and practicals we will cover diverse topics including basics in evolutionary biology, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, demographic inferences from genetic data, and the spread and evolution of domesticated plants and animals. In addition, the course will include a 3-week wet-lab practical introducing basic molecular techniques. The Natural History Museum of Denmark at KU is a leader in this field, and the course will showcase some of the ground-breaking research currently being carried out at the institution.

Learning Outcome


At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Describe how ancient DNA technologies are being used to reconstruct palaeoenvironments
  • Explain how demographic inferences can be drawn from genetic data of wild and domestic populations
  • Evaluate how current laboratory techniques can be used to most effectively to generate ancient genetic data



At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Perform a simple ancient DNA experiment in the lab
  • Implement basic tools used in the analysis of ancient DNA data  
  • Critically assess the validity of ancient DNA results



At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Evaluate and critically assess the results and impact(s) of selected seminal studies in ancient DNA
  • Assemble a research outline for an ancient DNA project addressing an open research question, incorporating the knowledge and skills acquired during the course

Relevant literature will be provided through Absalon.

Lectures, interactive discussion groups and a 3-week wet-lab practical.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 20
  • Laboratory
  • 42
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Written assignment, 20 hours
Assessment will be based on participation during class and practicals (20%) and a final written assignment (80%).
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.