The Neandertal genome

Medical Genetics

Introduction

Recent advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing have provided initial glimpses of the nuclear genome of Neandertals as well as other ancient mammals including cave bears and mammoths. In the 7 May 2010 issue of Science, an international team of researchers presents the draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of over 3 billion nucleotides from three individuals.

Because Neandertals are much closer kin to us than are chimpanzees, which diverged from the human lineage 5 to 7 million years ago, matching Neandertal DNA against our own has the potential to reveal genetic changes that help define who we are.

About Neandertals

Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis) are currently believed to be our closest evolutionary relatives. Although some researchers once thought they were our immediate ancestors in Europe, most now agree that Neandertals and modern humans most likely shared a common ancestor within the last 500,000 years, possibly in…

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