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Scientists prove humans bred with Neanderthals

The Local · 6 May 2010, 20:26

Published: 06 May 2010 20:26 GMT+02:00

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Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig analysed some four billion base pairs of DNA from Neanderthals – a species which died out more than 30,000 years ago. Initial analysis of the resulting genome sequence draft show that Neanderthals left traces of themselves in the genomes of some modern humans, the study published in this month’s journal “Science” revealed.

"The comparison of these two genetic sequences enables us to find out where our genome differs from that of our closest relative," research team leader Svante Pääbo said in a statement.

The DNA fragments came from bones found in Croatia, Russia, Spain and the Neandertal region of Germany. But the scientists had to develop a new method of separating DNA microbes that had lived in the bones for some 40,000 years and the DNA of the Neanderthals themselves, the statement said.

“Over 95 percent of the DNA in one sample originated from bacteria and micro-organisms which colonised the Neanderthal after his death," Pääbo said.

Once they were able to compare the human and Neanderthal genome sequences, they discovered that contrary to the common belief that the two species are not related, it appears the two actually bred enough for traces to appear in between one and four percent of modern human DNA.

"Those of us who live outside Africa carry a little Neanderthal DNA in us," Pääbo said.

The scientists compared the genome sequences for European, Asian and Africans against the Neanderthal, and found that humans outside Africa show traces.

"Neanderthals probably mixed with early modern humans before Homo sapiens split into different groups in Europe and Asia," Pääbo said.

Story continues below…

Now the group is working to determine which modern human genes may have come from Neanderthals and whether they provided an evolutionary advantage.

So far they have found genes related to cognitive function, metabolism and cranial features, the collar bone, and rib cage, the statement said.

"We will also decode the remaining parts of the Neanderthal genome and learn much more about ourselves and our closest relative," says Svante Pääbo.

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Your comments about this article

20:46 May 6, 2010 by Gavinski
Always thought someone was screwing around with the gene pool.
22:38 May 6, 2010 by Frenemy
...Oliver Kahn = living proof of concept
00:37 May 7, 2010 by William Thirteen
N. I. L. F. !!
10:20 May 7, 2010 by mixxim
This is true, my ex wife was a real cow!
12:39 May 7, 2010 by pepsionice
This opens the door to explain a lot of things about folks in Europe.
13:15 May 7, 2010 by Celeon
Now we can blame our primitive human behaviour on the them :-D
13:56 May 7, 2010 by Frenemy

...and by extension, most Americans too ;-)

(btw, I'm assuming you were joking)
00:21 May 8, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The thesis of these scientists is anecdotally supported by the fact that the progeny of this interbreeding are regularly posting on these threads.
02:42 May 8, 2010 by wetdawg~
...ah yes...I remember it well...she had breathe like Hyena!
21:15 May 8, 2010 by wenddiver
So Neanderthals don't want to date Africans???? Maybe early Rap music kept them away.
12:56 May 9, 2010 by orage
A new meaning to "Meet the Flintstones"
14:56 May 9, 2010 by froogler#1
@wenddiver you are a basket case!
18:34 May 9, 2010 by wenddiver
@Frogler- No just a person intelligent enough to ask the question if a scientist says they bred with everybody in the world except for one group? Why? Or is your data incomplete or tilted to the politically correct. Especially if life supposedly came out oof Africa, wouldn't they have more exposure?

Sounds like BS to me. Except for war fare related rape I doubt if there was much interaction.
19:16 May 9, 2010 by froogler#1
@wenddiver My bad, I guess your explanation makes your previous statement clearer :) sorry for misunderstanding!!
22:22 May 9, 2010 by wenddiver
So if Great Grandpa a hundred times removed was a Neanderthal Player, how come some people look s weak and frail. Why be a neanderthal player hater, Chicks have always dug neanderthals, this should come as no surprise.
16:34 May 10, 2010 by Tararex
I guess back in magical prehistory inter-species breeding was possible. If not, then doesn't this "proof" indicate that Neanderthal was of the same species as Homo Sapiens? I wonder what odds are of DNA identical species developing in continental separated areas? cough...

If the odds for identical species development appear astronomically out of this world our only other possibility is that Neanderthal and Homo S. shared an identical DNA ancestor. Oops! Now they've gummed up their own "Out of Africa" story.

According to OoA Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens can't be the same species. Unless Homo S./Neanderthal developed outside Africa and then returned and lost it's "Neanderthal" DNA, an idea which also doesn't make much sense but more so than the other requirements of the "Neanderthals and Humans interbreeding" fairytale.
16:43 May 10, 2010 by URsoTolerant
Why does the commonality have to be through breeding? Perhaps both species share a common ancestor and there is another factor in why the shared genes are not found in a subset of Homosapiens? Or perhaps there was a third species that breed with Neanderthals and Homosapiens. Or a bacteria/virus not present in Africa that affected populations geographically separated from Africa? I do like Gavinski's comment :)
03:57 May 11, 2010 by rphillips@windstream.net
This story has created a false impression that Neanderthals were not humans. They were early humans, and the variety has died out.

As has been obliquely pointed out in other reports, this story is an indication that the recently popular view that humanity originated in Africa is not exactly true. Neanderthals apparently did not originate in Africa. Meaning the human race had more than one point of origin. Another blow for the truth over the dogma of political correctness?
04:55 May 11, 2010 by denzend
"considering themselves wise, they became fools," google it. While science and God are companion, only because of the grace of God, and His creating man in his image, still, men do not acknowledge God as God, or we would not have the troubles which are destroying our habitat. Not withstanding nonsense, think in the spiritual realm, outside the box, the truth of the Bible, in faith, whether it fits practical or not, because the natural man cannot understand those things of the Spirit...because he is natural. ie., not spiritual. Truth is truth, sin is sin, no matter how you add it up. Where do you want to be in the universe? And more importantly, if you love your "loved ones," where would you have them be by your faith, instead of your human science? God is real. Acknowledge him before the 7th bowl of wrath is released. It only takes two righteous men to save your country. And if anyone had more skill, valid, pure, and exact, it is the Germans. God bless you, and the USA.
07:10 May 11, 2010 by verstehen
And American golfer Tiger Woods has been doing his best to continue the practice.
16:32 May 11, 2010 by RightofRush
There are two basic skull configurations, alpine (brachycephalic) and Nordic. Which of the two might show more Neanderthal influence?
16:36 May 11, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

@ rphillips@windstream.net

@everybody else that doesn't understand genetics

Homo neanderthalensis did originate in Africa. The genetic distinction came from being separated in the european continent for a lengthy period of time. Suggested reference material: World history.

Closely related species can often interbreed, but with mixed results. There is nothing that says the two species could not have breed with successful offspring after europe re-joined the world, so to speak. Suggested reference material: High school biology.

For a genetic timeline, consult this visualization: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/CurratExcoffierNeandethalmtDNA.png

Homo neanderthalensis's population is in light gray, Homo sapiens is in in dark gray, and the black area is where the two populations intermingled. The units are in generations.

For a timeline of general propagation of the Homo family, please see this chart: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Human_spreading_over_history.png

This doesn't damage evolution. It actually re-inforces it.

Dear God, why doesn't anyone pay attention in school anymore.
18:19 May 14, 2010 by nimblehuman
William Thirteen, I'm with you! Those Neanderthal women were probably a blast in bed, built as solidly as they were...:P
23:49 May 14, 2010 by Tararex
My dear Grenadier aus Aachen,

So...your school taught that Neanderthals were humans. That's interesting. My biology profs were quite distinct in classifying HN as a subspecies or separate species to HS. In non-politically correct biology this classification is an important determinant for genetic transfer and breeding. However your simplistic charts have changed my mind. That tiny bit of DNA differential in this article could only come about via succesful HN/HS breeding. I wonder how much DNA Homo Sapiens shares with drosophilia--60%? How about a banana, about 50%? Must be from interbreeding.
04:37 June 4, 2010 by rdiac
Hey, what happened in the Pleistocene should just stay in the Pleistocene.

Seriously, my ancestors obviously never shagged Homo Sapiens!
16:25 June 11, 2010 by HeatherNicole
@ wenddiver - the Neanderthals were not in Africa at the time of the interbreeding. I think this is actually a reason why they think breeding led to this similarity, and not common ancestry. If the similarities came from common ancestry, then the African humanoids would share it, not just the euro-asian humanoids. Since it's only the euro-asians, we probably got it from breeding. That's my guess, anyway.

@URsoTolerant - I was dreaming up all sorts of similar possibilities myself, especially wondering why they weren't attributing this to our common ancestor. As I said above, I think it's because it wasn't found in the Africans.

@Der Grenadier aus Aachen - I don't know about Germany, but in America I'm pretty sure that even paying attention won't afford you that kind of education. (I was homeschooled by Christian parents, so I definitely didn't learn any of this in school.) Even if it would, apparently American public schools are for socialization, not learning - especially the learning of science, that's really taboo (especially in the South). And I'm guessing a lot of these posters are from America, since I am and I found this article through a fellow American's Facebook post.
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