Latest Issue of Science News


Prehistoric Family Split: DNA puts Neandertals on edge of human ancestry

In the ongoing battle over their role in human evolution, Neandertals have taken another hit. An unprecedented amount of genetic material removed from Stone Age fossils indicates that the heavy-boned, beetle-browed Neandertals made, at most, a small genetic contribution to our prehistoric ancestors.

A team led by David Serre of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, compared mitochondrial DNA sequences extracted from fossils of four Neandertals unearthed in Belgium, Croatia, and France with those of five early modern humans found either in the Czech Republic or France. The specimens range in age from around 30,000 to 60,000 years old.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.