Sequencing the Genome of Neanderthals

The human family tree explored. ‘It sounds as though it came out of the pages of a science fiction book or from the mind of Steven Spielberg. But as is often the case, reality is where all the action is and this time it’s happening in Leipzig, Germany. There, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology are close to unlocking the secrets of the DNA belonging to Neanderthal man. Their efforts will help answer the question as to just how close a relative the Neanderthal man is to modern Man.

There has been much debate in the scientific community as to whether there is any relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans. Currently, the deliberation is divided into two main camps with some researchers believing that Neanderthals were simply replaced by early modern humans, while those in the other camp posit that the two groups may have indeed interbred.

That is why the research conducted by these European scientists is so important. By sequencing the genome of Neanderthals, scientists will be able to clarify the evolutionary relationship between humans and Neanderthals. This will also help identify those genetic changes that enabled modern humans to leave Africa and make their way across the world some 100 000 years ago.’

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