Neanderthal yields nuclear DNA

By | May 18, 2006

Neanderthal yields nuclear DNA

The first sequences of nuclear DNA to be taken from a Neanderthal have been reported at a US science meeting.Geneticist Svante Paabo and his team say they isolated the long segments of genetic material from a 45,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil from Croatia.

The work should reveal how closely related the Neanderthal species was to modern humans, Homo sapiens. …

So far, Paabo and colleagues have managed to sequence around a million base-pairs, which comprises 0.03% of the Neanderthal’s entire DNA “catalogue”, or genome. Base-pairs are the simplest bonded chemical units which hold together the DNA double helix.

The genetic material comes from a 45,000-year-old male Neanderthal specimen found in Vindija Cave outside Zagreb, the News@Nature website reports.

…Preliminary analysis shows the bundle of DNA responsible for maleness in the Neanderthal – its Y chromosome – is very different from modern human and chimpanzee Y chromosomes; more so than for the other chromosomes in the genome. This might suggest that little interbreeding occurred between our own species and the Neanderthals. …

Neanderthals lived across Europe and parts of west and central Asia from approximately 230,000 to 29,000 years ago. It is unclear what factors led to their demise, but climate change and competition from modern humans may have played a role. – bbc

Note than an entire human species can become extinct.

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