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Ancient Gene Yield: New methods retrieve Neandertals' DNA

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9:09am, November 15, 2006

Welcome to the era of Neandertal genetics. Researchers announced this week that they have retrieved and analyzed a huge chunk of Neandertal DNA, covering more than 1 million of the roughly 3 billion* paired chemical constituents of an individual's genetic makeup.

Until now, scientists had extracted small DNA segments from Neandertal bones, mainly from mitochondria outside cell nuclei (SN: 4/1/00, p. 213). Two new techniques have now recovered large amounts of genetic material from nuclei. One also permits tagging of ancient DNA sequences that correspond to modern human genes.

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