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Stone Age Genetics: Ancient DNA enters humanity's heritage

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12:01pm, May 14, 2003

Genetic material that Italian researchers extracted from the bones of European Stone Age Homo sapiens, sometimes called Cro-Magnons, bolsters the theory that people evolved independently of Neandertals, the team proposes.

Fossils of two anatomically modern H. sapiens found in a southern Italian cave yielded mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from the mother, say Giorgio Bertorelle of the University of Ferrara in Italy and his colleagues. The DNA contains chemical sequences that resemble those of people today but differ substantially from those previously isolated from four Neandertal specimens, the scientists report.

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