Ivo Horn

Ivo Horn

I am a lecturer in molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Applied Sciences Leiden and interested in the exciting fields of palaeobiology, bioarcheology and palaeoproteomics. DNA work on very old fossils is impossible due to the intrinsic half-life of DNA molecules. However, proteins tend to be very well preserved under particular circumstances. By using mass spectrometry, I retrieve proteomic spectra from various fossils with the help of students.


bones, fossils, Mass Spectrometry, proteomics


Natural history museums harbor precious collections of biological materials from ancient times. Fossil bones contain molecules that can reveal information about life on earth during the times in which the organism was alive. Using high tech methods like mass spectrometry and sequencing we can now read these molecules and obtain valuable information hidden from the naked eye.

Applying chemical methods, we can extract molecules from ancient materials. After extraction we can use advanced methods like mass spectrometry to determine exactly which proteins were present in the isolated samples. We now know that DNA can be retrieved from materials up to a million years old. Proteins, however, can be isolated from even older samples, thereby allowing us to have an even deeper look into the history of life on earth. Similar to DNA, we can identify and classify organisms on the basis of protein sequences.

Mass spectrum of fossil dodo bone
Ancient lynx bone


Haplotyping of lynx bones from archaeological excavation sites.

DNA barcoding of mushrooms - educational project.


  • Horn I.R., Kenens Y., Palmblad N.M., Van der Plas-Duivesteijn S.J., Langeveld B.W., Meijer H.J.M., Dalebout H., Marissen R.J., Fischer A., Florens F.B.V., Niemann J., Rijsdijk K.F., Schulp A.S., Laros J.F.J., Gravendeel B. 2019. Palaeoproteomics of bird bones for taxonomic classification. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 186: 650-665.

All publications


Proteomics lecture and practical in MSc course Genomic Architecture at Leiden University.

Proteomics and Big Data courses in BSc courses biology at University of Applied Sciences Leiden.

CBD trainings http://cbd.hsleiden.nl

In the

VPRO uitzending "Herboren mammoet"

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