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No surprise there. The interesting information is when the ancestor lived. --PG

http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/scimedemail/la-sci-neanderthal9-2008aug09,0,41616.story

 From the Los Angeles Times

Neanderthals, modern humans share ancestor, scientists say

Researchers find a DNA link between the two species.

By Karen Kaplan
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 9, 2008

Neanderthals and modern humans shared an ancestor that lived about 
660,000 years ago, according to scientists who have pieced together 
the first complete sequence of maternal DNA from humanity's closest 
cousins.

The DNA evidence also verified that the two species did not 
interbreed during the 10,000 to 20,000 years they coexisted in Europe 
and western Asia after humans migrated there from Africa. The last of 
the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, though some 
scientists speculate that at least a few of their genes live on in 
humans.

"Neanderthals made no lasting contribution to the modern human 
[maternal] DNA gene pool," a team of German, American, Croatian and 
Finnish researchers wrote in Friday's edition of the journal Cell.

The team focused on mitochondrial DNA, a relatively short string of 
16,565 As, Ts, Cs and Gs that spell out 13 genes for controlling the 
energy sources of cells. Unlike nuclear DNA, which is unique for 
every person, mitochondrial DNA is passed virtually unchanged from 
mother to child.

Members of the research group are engaged in a two-year effort to 
decode the roughly 3 billion letters of nuclear DNA contained in a 
38,000-year-old Neanderthal bone fragment discovered in a Croatian 
cave.

In the process, they collected enough maternal DNA to sequence that 
genome with a high degree of certainty, said lead author Ed Green, a 
postdoctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary 
Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Comparison of the Neanderthal sequence to 10 human sequences suggests 
that the species diverged 520,000 to 800,000 years ago -- earlier 
than the 400,000 years scientists had previously estimated using 
fossil finds.

Scientists have sequenced maternal DNA from thousands of people 
around the world to study the history of human migration out of 
Africa. All of them are distinct from the Neanderthal version, Green 
said.

Most scientists accept the view that there aren't any Neanderthal 
genes in the human genome, but evolutionary geneticist Jeff Wall of 
UC San Francisco said that only "large amounts of high-quality 
Neanderthal nuclear DNA sequences" will resolve the issue once and 
for all.

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