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Sunday, May 9, 2010

We Have Neanderthal DNA

"Some people don¹t just have a caveman mentality; they may actually
carry a little relic of the Stone Age in their DNA.

A new study of the Neandertal genome shows that humans and Neandertals
interbred. The discovery comes as a big surprise to researchers who have
been searching for genetic evidence of human-Neandertal interbreeding
for years and finding none.

About 1 percent to 4 percent of DNA in modern people from Europe and
Asia was inherited from Neandertals, researchers report in the May 7
Science. ³It¹s a small, but very real proportion of our ancestry,² says
study coauthor David Reich of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in
Cambridge, Mass. Comparisons of the human and Neandertal genomes are
also revealing how humans evolved to become the sole living hominid
species on the planet.

Neandertals lived in Europe, the Middle East and western Asia until they
disappeared about 30,000 years ago. The new data indicate that humans
may not have replaced Neandertals, but assimilated them into the human
gene pool.

³Neandertals are not totally extinct; they live on in some of us,² says
Svante Pbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in
Leipzig, Germany, and leader of the Neandertal genome project."

"Scientists were surprised to find that people from China and Papua New
Guinea (places where Neandertals never lived) have just as much
Neandertal ancestry as people from France. The group did not find traces
of Neandertal heritage in the two African people studied. The result
probably means that interbreeding between Neandertals and humans took
place about 50,000 to 80,000 years ago in the Middle East as humans
began migrating out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world, Reich


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