DNA research confirms recent interaction between Neanderthals and humans

May 01, 2014 by Laf (Laurent) Frantz
DNA-research confirms recent interaction between Neanderthals and humans

Neanderthals and modern humans, tens of thousands of years ago, had sexual intercourse with each other in Europe and Asia. For this reason, we as modern humans still carry Neanderthal DNA in us. Researchers from Edinburgh University and Wageningen University come to this conclusion based on a comparative statistical analysis of DNA from Neanderthals and humans. They published their findings in the journal Genetics.

The researchers Konrad Lohse of the University of Edinburgh and Laurent Frantz from Wageningen University investigated the biological relationship between modern humans and a previous human species that became extinct around thirty thousand years ago.

Experts already agreed that both groups came from a common ancestor in Africa before they spread all over the world. Research has shown that both groups have appeared at different times, where the Neanderthals left Africa 200 000 years earlier than humans.

Previous research by other groups resulted in two theories: Genetic exchange between Neanderthals and and an alternative explanation that modern Europeans and Asians are related to Neanderthals because they descended from the same sub-populations from Africa.

The Edinburgh-Wageningen team has now shown that the genetic similarity between Neanderthal and modern human populations should have occurred outside of Africa, after they interacted with each other in Europe and Asia. The new findings of the research team are in accordance with the first theory, and go even further into the extent of exchange than the original theory.

The researchers developed a new method to compare competing theories. They divided the genetic code of each species in a series of short DNA blocks, from which they could calculate the statistical probability of each scenario.

The method can also be used to reconstruct the history of other species, including species that are rare or extinct.

Explore further: New method confirms humans and Neanderthals interbred

More information: "Neandertal Admixture in Eurasia Confirmed by Maximum Likelihood Analysis of Three Genomes" Konrad Lohse and Laurent A. F. Frantz. Genetics genetics.114.162396; Early online February 13, 2014,. DOI: 10.1534/genetics.114.162396

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New method confirms humans and Neanderthals interbred

Apr 08, 2014

Technical objections to the idea that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of Eurasians have been overcome, thanks to a genome analysis method described in the April 2014 issue of the journal Genetics. The te ...

What gave us the advantage over extinct types of humans?

Apr 22, 2014

In parallel with modern man (Homo sapiens), there were other, extinct types of humans with whom we lived side by side, such as Neanderthals and the recently discovered Denisovans of Siberia. Yet only Homo s ...

Recommended for you

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China

22 hours ago

A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China, according to a study published December 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xiao-hong Chen f ...

Gothic cathedrals blend iron and stone

Dec 17, 2014

Using radiocarbon dating on metal found in Gothic cathedrals, an interdisciplinary team has shown, for the first time through absolute dating, that iron was used to reinforce stone from the construction phase. ...

Research shows Jaws didn't kill his cousin

Dec 16, 2014

New research suggests our jawed ancestors weren't responsible for the demise of their jawless cousins as had been assumed. Instead Dr Robert Sansom from The University of Manchester believes rising sea levels ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.