Neandertal genome may reveal secrets of human evolution
CHICAGO — An international group of scientists has completed the first rough draft of Neandertal’s genetic instruction manual. The genetic evidence suggests that humans and Neandertals are very similar, but that the two species probably didn’t interbreed.
Speaking by video teleconference from Leipzig, Germany, scientists led by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology announced the achievement to reporters gathered at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Pääbo said that the team has decoded 3.7 billion bases of Neandertal DNA from a bone of a female Neandertal fossil discovered in Vindija cave in Croatia. That DNA represents about 63 percent of the total Neandertal genome.
“It’s a milestone,” says John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The ann