Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Evidence of Neandertal/Early Modern Hybridization

Science Daily is reporting on yet more evidence that Neandertal DNA is found in the modern genome. They write:
Dr. [Damian] Labuda and his team almost a decade ago had identified a piece of DNA (called a haplotype) in the human X chromosome that seemed different and whose origins they questioned. When the Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010, they quickly compared 6000 chromosomes from all parts of the world to the Neanderthal haplotype. The Neanderthal sequence was present in peoples across all continents, except for sub-Saharan Africa, and including Australia.
The authors of the article in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution write that the Neandertal contribution is 9%, which they refer to as “notable.” This means that the mixing between the two groups was not incidental or isolated. It was long-term and extensive. How long it went on is anybody’s guess but it suggests that, if the Out of Africa model is still true, there were several different migrations of modern humans and that it is only the recent one in which there was no admixture. This seriously damages the hypothesis that Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo neandertalensis were separate species.


  1. Would thank make neanderthals a sub species? Is there a required % of genetic differences that classifies life a a sub species or different species?

  2. Serena, there are quite a few palaeoanthropologists out there that classify the two hominins as Homo sapiens neandertalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens and up until the advent of the mitochondrial DNA evidence in the 1980s, it was assumed that there was some continuity going on by many workers. Replacement has been the predominant model for the last thirty years but maybe the tide is now swinging toward some form of continuity—a position that I tend to support.