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  • Neanderthal new results

    A brief report on Science (requires subscription) talks about a conference paper by Svante Paabo et al. They have apparently analyzed more of the Neanderthal's DNA (including the Y chromosome) and this seems to confirm that it does not show any interbreeding with humans.

    Also, in another paper, Paabo et al analyzed the mtdna of some ancient bones (30-40K years ago) from Uzbekistan and the Altai, and the mtdna showed that they were neanderthals, the easternmost neanderthals found so far. Anyway, this would add two more neanderthal mtdna sequences. we may almost be able to start thinking about neanderthals mtdna haplogroups.

    this was just an announcement, the papers themselves haven't been published, though given the topic, they may be soon, and presumably in a top journal.

    cacio

  • #2
    Research shows Neanderthals may have talked...

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071018/...erthals_speech

    By Michael Kahn Thu Oct 18, 4:06 PM ET

    LONDON (Reuters) - Neanderthals, often portrayed as grunting, club-carrying brutes, may have been capable of sophisticated speech, researchers said on Thursday.

    A DNA analysis shows Neanderthals share with humans two key changes in the FOXP2 gene known to be involved in speech, raising the possibility the species possessed some prerequisites for language, the researchers said.

    "From the point of this gene at least the Neanderthals could have had language like we do," said Johannes Krause, a biochemist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, who led the study.

    But many as yet unknown genes may also underlie the capacity for language, the researchers added.

    FOXP2 produces a protein that turns other genes on and off and people who carry a non-functioning copy of the gene have speech and language problems.

    Animals ranging from mice to orangutans have the gene and scientists had thought a relatively small change in FOXP2 emerged just as humans did less than 200,000 years ago.

    The findings published in Current Biology suggest the genetic variation occurred long before, potentially as long as 400,000 years ago.

    "We were surprised to find the same variant of the FOXP2 gene that humans have," Krause said. "This suggests that the last common ancestor Neanderthal and humans shared had this gene."

    Neanderthals were a dead-end offshoot of the human line who inhabited Europe and parts of west and central Asia. Research indicates they were expert tool-makers, used animal skins to keep warm and cared for each other.

    Most researchers believe Neanderthals survived in Europe until the arrival of fully modern humans about 30,000 years ago although controversial findings last year suggested they might have survived until as recently as 24,000 years ago.

    Nobody knows if Neanderthals could talk but this finding shows they had at least had a key genetic change required for speech -- an evolutionary edge critical for human survival, Krause said.

    "Language is a more sophisticated way to pass on knowledge to the next generation," he said. "You live like an infant if you do not learn."

    In their study, the researchers extracted DNA from a collection of Neanderthal remains recently excavated from a site in Northern Spain.

    Because the bones were so well preserved, the scientists were also able to retrieve nuclear DNA from Neanderthals, opening the way for a more complete understanding of human and Neanderthal evolution, Krause said.

    "Nuclear DNA is the DNA in the nucleus of the cell that makes up nearly all the genetic information people carry. We can now study every Neanderthal gene we are interested in."

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    • #3
      Neanderthals Didn't Mate With Modern Humans

      Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans likely did not interbreed, according to a new DNA study. The study further suggests that small population numbers helped do in our closest relatives.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ertal-dna.html

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      • #4
        Interesting article. So they sequenced a whole mtdna. I didn't understand how this can say anything about the number of neanderthals. Presumably, that's an aside - ie from other (non genetic) evidence one can infer that the populations were small.

        cacio

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        • #5
          Originally posted by cacio
          Interesting article. So they sequenced a whole mtdna. I didn't understand how this can say anything about the number of neanderthals. Presumably, that's an aside - ie from other (non genetic) evidence one can infer that the populations were small.

          cacio
          It appears the small population estimate is based on the high number of mutations, suggesting that the Natural Selection process, which would normally deselect many of the marginally performing mutations, was compromised due to a small population.
          Floyd
          fmoakes
          FTDNA Customer
          Last edited by fmoakes; 13 August 2008, 02:11 AM.

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