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Is There a Neanderthal in Your DNA?


A remarkable finding could answer the question whether our human ancestors and the Neanderthals interbred some time after both species left Africa many thousands of years ago. Only 10 years after scientists triumphantly decoded the human genome, an international research team has mapped the genes of the long-extinct Neanderthal people and report there's a pinch of Neanderthal in all of us.

The report, published today in the journal Science, capped more than five years of intensive work by a group of 56 international scientists led by German paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo and Richard E. Green of UC Santa Cruz.

The project's scientists used tiny specks of powdered bone retrieved from three Neanderthal females who died in a Croatian cave more than 40,000 years ago to complete the draft of the Neanderthal genome. They then compared the genes to those of modern humans living today in five different regions of the world: France, Papua New Guinea, China, and southern and northern Africa.

The research concluded that humans living today carry between 1 and 4 percent of Neanderthal genes that carry the code for proteins in our bodies. Those genes must have entered our lineage sometime during a 50,000-year period when the Neanderthals and humans left Africa through the Middle East and spread throughout Europe and Asia. The Neanderthals became extinct about 30,000 years ago.

The complete genomes of the Neanderthals and modern humans, whose lineages separated from some unknown common ancestor at least 400,000 years ago, are 99.5 percent identical. They are, in fact, our closest evolutionary relatives. By comparison, humans and chimpanzees share 98 percent of their genes.

The scientists analyzed 4 billion units of Neanderthal DNA, called nucleotides - at least 60 percent of the Neanderthal's entire genome. While incomplete, Pääbo told reporters during a teleconference this week that 60 percent "is a very good statistical sample of the entire genome."

Finding the Neanderthal genes in people living today provides "compelling" evidence that thousands of years ago some interbreeding occurred between the two species, Green said.

Casey Kazan



And was there any evidence of Cylon DNA? :-P

Why would they assume interbreeding rather then the genes both came from a common ancestor?

@mark: Good question. If the DNA came from the common ancestor of humans and neanderthals, then we should see evidence of neanderthal DNA in native african populations as well. However, we only observe neanderthal DNA in eurasians, which imply that inbreeding took place after the eurasian ancestors left africa. The paper includes many other lines of evidence, such as estimations of the time that those sequences entered the eurasian populations, and nearly all analyses are consistent with the "neanderthal" DNA coming from interbreeding rather than ancestral alleles.

Understanding more about the Neanderthal genome will probably help me understand my neighbors a little better too.

Dude, who comes up with this stuff

No pun intended, but isn't this "ancient news" from a few months ago?

(Nevertheless, it's a highly fascinating story!)

screw everything within reach.

Rather perplexing that the article mentions that both Neanderthals and humans left Africa. Neanderthals evolved in Europe, humans in Africa.

to dirk alan,

Neanderthals ARE human. An earlier group of an ancestor of homosapiens left African sometime between 500,000 and one million years ago. A branch of these creatures became Neanderthals.

Later, about 60,000 years ago, another group of our common ancestors left Africa. After it left Africa, this group then evolved to become fully modern homo sapiens. The group that stayed behind in Africa is essentially the same as it was 60,000 years ago. Of course, all professional anthropologists know this, but they dare not state these views in public because the political correctness crybabies would have a heart-attack.

A portion of homo sapiens (the ones that left Africa) mated with Neanderthals. That is why Africans have no Neanderthal DNA, and Eurasians do.

but aren't the negroids devoid of this dna strain?

RE: The paper includes many other lines of evidence, such as estimations of the time that those sequences entered the eurasian populations....

LOL. So estimations qualify as evidence? And this will be built-on as well, so that past speculation is grounds for future speculation. Seriously, I don't mind you suggesting the possibility of interbreeding, but as with most science, the rush to pronounce a definitive conclusion means that it will have to be revisited down the road.

Wtf is a negroid u fuckin cracka. Everythin has 2 be about race even research. Go suck on ur mamas tit b4 u gt hungry

Haha nice. A bit overly sensitive aren't we, curious. I see that a lot nowadays with our ultra Politically Correct society. The denial of truth and reality. Hypocrisy at it's finest.

Anyway, Here's the answer to your question. It's a physical Anthropology classification.

Negroid. Caucasoid. Mongoloid.

People just don't understand the obvious: People came out of Africa and met the Neanderthals. They where each, greatly impressed with their new friend's knowledge. They visited, fed each other, hunted together, fished together, slept together and made babies together. And those babies, due to hybrid vigor, genetic enhancement and the combined knowledge of their dual ancestry, were healthier, smarter, more ambitious; simply more capable than any animal that had theretofore ever lived upon this planet. They thrived, learned quickly, multiplied, and rapidly spread over the Earth. And I have little doubt that they took excellent care of their Neanderthal and African grand-parents as long as they were around.

Edward.. Only 60% of Neanderthal DNA has been uncovered. The remaining 40% is undiscovered. Africans could still have that DNA, and it would only prove a common ancestry. Why don't they assume non-African Homo Sapiens mated if only 60% was decoded?

The one thing that is left out is the skin eyes hair colour.The animals of northern climates have light colours.The reason is this was where they came from.Neanderthal come from northern areas and have been there long enough to have this .Most likely blonds with blue eyes will have more neanderthal than darker peoples.

Look up "Blue Eyes" in Wikipedia or Google "Blue Eyes" and you will see a second genetic change (Single Point Mutation or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) to see another interesting fact. Then start watching the large number of scientists that have blue eyes.

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