Monday, November 28, 2011

Neanderthal's Genes in People Today

It was recently discovered that many people living today have some type of neanderthal ancestor. It was previously thought that Neanderthals contributed little or none to our inheritance. This discovery comes from the sequencing of the genome of a neanderthal by the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. Researchers are able to look at this genetic blueprint and understand and learn as much from it as our own sequenced genome. There are, however, many tasks that one must accomplish to get good, accurate data. For example, only a small amount of Neanderthal DNA was found in the bones among great amounts of bacteria and fungi. These types of hurdles needed to be carefully avoided. Once the genome is sequenced it can be compared to modern genomes to see where they differ. It was found that between 1% and 4% of the Eurasian genome comes from Neanderthals. This number is higher than anticipated. The study also confirmed that human ancestry can be traced back to Africa, a theory that is widely accepted.  This theory says that the ancestors of humans were Homo sapiens, and they originated from Africa about 200,000 years ago and then spread across the world. When comparing the genomes, the genome of Non africans (from China,Europe, New Guinea) are closer to Neanderthals then African genomes.  This is explained by limited gene flow or limited mating between Neanderthals and eurasians. The genes of Neanderthals (some of them) therefore, still live on in us. 

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