Highlights from the annual physical anthropology meeting, Knoxville, April 10-13
Ötzi’s Neandertal ancestry
A 5,300-year-old man found sticking out of an Alpine glacier in 1991 possessed more genes in common with Neandertals than Europeans today do. The man’s Neandertal heritage is a preliminary sign that Stone Age interbreeding occurred more frequently than many scientists assume. Two researchers determined that the previously analyzed genome of Ötzi the Tyrolean Iceman (SN: 3/24/12, p. 5) included roughly 4 to 4.5 percent Neandertal genes. Modern Europeans’ genetic library includes an average of 2.5 percent Neandertal genes.
Human groups that migrated into Europe after 5,000 years ago mated with continental natives and diluted traces of Neandertal genetic ancestry in Ötzi, proposed Aaron Sams of Cornell University on April 12.
It’s difficult to estimate precisely how many genes in the Iceman or in living people had roots in Neandertals, said study coauthor John