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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Human Beings are Getting Dumber

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Real Question: Who Didn't Have Sex with Neanderthals? The only modern humans whose ancestors did not interbreed with Neanderthals are apparently sub-Saharan Africans, researchers say. New findings suggest modern North Africans carry genetic traces from Neanderthals, modern humanity's closest known extinct relatives. ... Genetic analysis of these extinct lineages├»¿½ fossils has revealed they once interbred with our ancestors, with recent estimates suggesting that Neanderthal DNA made up 1 percent to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes. Although this sex apparently only rarely produced offspring, this mixing was enough to endow some people with the robust immune systems they enjoy today. The Neanderthal genome revealed that people outside Africa share more genetic mutations with Neanderthals than Africans do. One possible explanation is that modern humans interbred with Neanderthals mostly after the modern lineage began appearing outside Africa at least 100,000 years ago. Another, more complex scenario is that an African group ancestral to both Neanderthals and certain modern human populations genetically split from other Africans beginning about 230,000 years ago. This group then stayed genetically distinct until it eventually left Africa. The researchers focused on 780,000 genetic variants in 125 people representing seven different North African locations. They found North Africans had dramatically more genetic variants linked with Neanderthals than sub-Saharan Africans did. The level of genetic variants that North Africans share with Neanderthals is on par with that seen in modern Eurasians. The scientists also found this Neanderthal genetic signal was higher in North African populations whose ancestors had relatively little recent interbreeding with modern Near Eastern or European peoples. That suggests the signal came directly from ancient mixing with Neanderthals, and not recent interbreeding with other modern humans whose ancestors might have interbred with Neanderthals. Source
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