This line of research is focused on the study of ancient proteins. Proteins are more stable than DNA so their information can be preserved for millions of years in different bio-mineralized tissues such as bones, teeth, or even eggshells.
The information provided by proteins enrich our knowledge about fossil remains. To date, the oldest proteins are dated to 3.8 million years (Ma) and were obtained from an ostrich eggshell from the Lateoli site (Tanzania). Paleoproteomic studies analyze the differences among aminoacid sequences of proteins that perform similar functions. Through the application of molecular techniques, we can investigate the evolutionary history of fossils where the DNA is not preserved.
This novel discipline can contribute to the reconstruction of the evolutionary relationship between extinct and extant hominin species, to the estimation of the divergence time among taxa and to revise the phylogeny of our own evolutionary group.