Thursday, May 06, 2010
The most extensive study of the topic to date indicates that humans and Neanderthals - well, dated. A little. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig report most humans include in their genome between one and four percent Neanderthal DNA. Oddly, the interbreeding doesn't seem to have occurred in Europe, where Neanderthal lasted the longest and coexisted with modern humans the longest. Instead, it happened in the Middle East and ended 60,000 years ago. Some Homo sapiens carried Neanderthal genes into Europe, others to East Asia. No trace appears in modern Africans. The findings are preliminary and are likely to change as more Neanderthal DNA is analyzed.