The Neanderthals were the sister species of the Homo sapiens and they inhabited Europe in the middle Paleolithic period which is believed to have started about 300000 years ago. This essay discusses about a major discovery in genetics research that found that the DNA of some modern humans contains small amounts of Neanderthal DNA and it also explain this finding and discuss its relevance to human ancestry and evolution.
Neanderthal and modern man DNA
According to the recent scientific research, it is believed that many people who are alive today are of the Neanderthal ancestry and the finding has surprised many scientists because the previous it contrasts the previous research findings which imply that the Neanderthals made no contribution to the inheritance of man. The finding emerged from the close analysis of the Neanderthal genome which shows that about one to four percent of the human genomes seems to originate from the Neanderthals. While the genetic contribution of from the Neanderthals who are found in Asia and Europe appears to be relatively small, the percentage is much higher than the one suggested by the previous researches (Lee A. 2010).
To substantiate the finding, Professor Svante Paabo of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said that "They are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on, a little bit," Secondly, Professor Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at London's Natural History Museum told BBC news that In some ways [the study] confirms what we already knew, in that the Neanderthals look like a separate line. But, of course, the really surprising thing for many of us is the implication that there has been some interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans in the past." Further, John Hawks who is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said: "They're us. We're them." He also said, "It seemed like it was likely to be possible, but I am surprised by the amount. I really was not expecting it to be as high as 4%," (BBC).
To come up with the above results, the high efficiency technology which supported to processing of many genetic sequences concurrently was used. The sequence that was used contained the DNA that was obtained from the bones of different Neanderthals that were found in Croatia. The researchers faced a lot of challenges when retrieving the genetic materials from old remains but they were able to get some amount of DNA from the fungi and bacteria that were in the remains. Another problem that the researchers encountered was that the DNA of the Neanderthals had broken down into very small segments and changed their chemical nature but the researchers were capable of predicting the nature of these chemical changes hence were able to come up with the software that made corrections for them.
In the science journal, the scientists described their comparison of the sequences with the modern people genomes from around the world and Professor Paabo said, "The comparison of these two genetic sequences enables us to find out where our genome differs from that of our closest relative," (BBC).
The results of these researchers show that the genomes of some people especially the non Africans who are found in china and Europe are closely related to the sequences of the Neanderthals. To support their finding, the scientists also investigated the signs of the natural selection that boosts the modern human beings and they found that there were some regions where selection may have been happening.
If the above DNA sequence is correct, it leads to the emergence of a new view of human evolution. The people from Europe, China and Papua New Guinea were found to contain the Neanderthal DNA and this implies that there was interbreeding before the divergence of Asian and European populations. It is believed that the people in Middle East encountered the Neanderthals might have mated because they seem to share some behavioral characteristics.
In conclusion, the future researches may lead to a discovery that the Neanderthals helped shaping the human evolution in some way.