Ancient DNA pp 65-70 | Cite as

DNA Extraction from Fossil Eggshell

  • Charlotte L. Oskam
  • Michael BunceEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 840)


Avian eggshell fragments recovered from both paleontological and archaeological deposits contain a cache of well-preserved ancient DNA. Here, we describe an extraction protocol that has been optimized to maximize the recovery of ancient DNA from fossil eggshell and minimize the co-purification of PCR inhibitors. In this method, fossil eggshell fragments are powdered, then digested and heated to release DNA from the calcite matrix. The digest then undergoes a concentration step before purification and washing using silica columns. The method has been used to recover aDNA from the eggshell of many avian species including moa, elephant birds, and emu, up to 19,000 years old.

Key words

eggshell silica ancient DNA DNA extraction 



MB was supported by the Australian Research Council as a Future Fellow (FT0991741). We thank Emma McLay, Morten Allentoft, Jayne Houston, and James Haile for helpful advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ancient DNA Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences and BiotechnologyMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia

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