New research has found that some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals and is found exclusively in people outside Africa.
Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa somewhere in the range of 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, evolved in what is now France, Spain, Germany and Russia, and are believed to have lived until about 30,000 years ago. Early modern humans left Africa about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago.
The question on everyone's mind has always been whether the physically stronger Neanderthals, who possessed the gene for language and may have played the flute, were a separate species or could have interbred with modern humans. The answer, says
an international team of researchers writing in Molecular Biology and Evolution, is yes, the two lived in close association.
Almost a decade ago, they identified a haplotype in the human X chromosome that seemed different and whose origins they questioned. When the Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010, they quickly compared 6000 chromosomes from all parts of the world to the Neanderthal haplotype. The Neanderthal sequence was present in peoples across all continents, except for sub-Saharan Africa, and including Australia.
"This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred," says Dr. Damian Labuda of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center. His team places the timing of such intimate contacts and/or family ties early on, probably at the crossroads of the Middle East. "In addition, because our methods were totally independent of Neanderthal material, we can also conclude that previous results were not influenced by contaminating artifacts."
"Dr. Labuda and his colleagues were the first to identify a genetic variation in non-Africans that was likely to have come from an archaic population. This was done entirely without the Neanderthal genome sequence, but in light of the Neanderthal sequence, it is now clear that they were absolutely right!" adds Dr. David Reich, a Harvard Medical School geneticist, one of the principal researchers in the Neanderthal genome project.
"There is little doubt that this haplotype is present because of mating with our ancestors and Neanderthals. This is a very nice result, and further analysis may help determine more details," says Dr. Nick Patterson, of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, a major researcher in human ancestry who was not involved in this study.
So, speculates Dr. Labuda, did these exchanges contribute to our success across the world? "Variability is very important for long-term survival of a species," says Dr. Labuda. "Every addition to the genome can be enriching."
An interesting match, indeed.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Sexual Fantasies: Threesomes Are Normal, Golden Showers Not So Much
- Ghost Light From Dead Galaxies - A Hubble Halloween
- US Wildlife Bans On GMOs And Neonics Lack Transparency And Scientific Rationale
- Is It Possible To Build A Spacesuit Or Spaceship To Travel Through The Sun With Future Tech? - Just For Fun.
- Does Max Tegmark Kill A Daughter In A Parallel World ?
- The Way Architecture Imitates Life, Biology Meets Geometry
- Greenpeace Says Its GMOs Are Better Than Science's GMOs, Still Hates Golden Rice
- "Verduyn is right on the money when he says it's not the emotion of sadness itself that's inherently..."
- "A very astute observation, given that they're both, in essence, electrical phenomena...."
- "A growing population is a huge problem because we take for granted the innovations that have..."
- " Well, perhaps, my inference and reply is faulty, but you do say Tolle basically claims his way..."
- "I'm flattered you think I wrote this. Jon will be less pleased...."
- Two-faced anti-GMO groups: Block crop and food innovations then claim Big Ag prevents GMO innovations
- Why support erodes for GMO labeling (Hint: It’s not because of spending by Big Ag)
- Genetic “hall of mirrors” with large palindromes, yet smaller: What’s mighty about the mouse
- Gut bacteria an easy scapegoat for disease, but connections hard to prove
- Vermont Rube Goldberg-like GMO labeling law exempts GMO filled natural supplements
- Downside to GMOs: Yields have become so good, they exceed processing capacity
- Fun and games make for better learners
- Avivagen publishes evidence for natural alternative to antibiotic use in livestock
- Drug tests on mothers' hair links recreational drug use to birth defects
- Bladderwrack: Tougher than suspected
- Scientists seek cure for devastating witches' broom disease of the chocolate tree