No surprise there. The interesting information is when the
ancestor lived. --PG
From the Los Angeles Times
Neanderthals, modern humans share ancestor, scientists
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
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
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
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
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
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.