Neanderthals may have interbred with humans twice

Apr 21, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
Homo neanderthalensis, adult male. Credit: John Gurche, artist / Chip Clark, photographer

(PhysOrg.com) -- Extinct human species such as Neanderthals may still be with us, at least in our DNA, and this may help explain why they disappeared from the fossil record around 30,000 years ago.

An examination of the DNA of 1,983 people from around the globe suggests that extinct human species such as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo heidelbergensis interbred with our own ancestors during two separate periods, and their genes remain in our DNA today. The research was carried out by a group of genetic anthropologists from the University of New Mexico, and leader of the team, Jeffrey Long, said the findings mean did not completely disappear, but “there is a little bit of Neanderthal left over in almost all humans.”

The subjects of the study were drawn from 99 population groups in the Americas, Oceania, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the researchers analyzed over 600 microsatellite positions on the , which are sections that can be used rather like fingerprints. Doctoral student Sarah Joyce then developed an to explain the genetic variations found in the microsatellite positions.

The results were unexpected, but Joyce said the best explanation for the variations was that our and the archaic species interbred during two periods after the first Homo sapiens had left Africa: the first in the Mediterranean around 60,000 years ago, and the second in eastern Asia about 45,000 years ago. The group found no evidence of the interbreeding in the DNA of modern Africans included in the study.

The findings suggest that after the first interbreeding populations migrated from the Mediterranean to North America, Europe and Asia. A second interbreeding in Asia then altered the genome of the people who went on to migrate to Oceania.

The findings were presented on 17th April at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists’ annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they created a great deal of interest among other researchers in the field, who had been attempting to explain some curious variations in the genome. One researcher, Linda Vigilant from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said the findings may help explain what she called “subtle deviations” in the genetic variations in the Pacific region.

Other researchers from the Max Planck Institute, led by Svante Pääbo, finished sequencing the first draft of the Neanderthal genome last year. (See the PhysOrg article here.) The results are expected to be published soon and may shed more light on the possibility of interbreeding. Earlier research suggested interbreeding did not occur, but unlike Pääbo’s latest research these early results were not based on an analysis of the complete genome.

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User comments : 20

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Sancho
2.7 / 5 (12) Apr 21, 2010
Nice to see some science confirming what I've long suspected. Met a girl from the south of France once who clearly was descended from Neaderthal. IF, besides her face, her physique was also Neaderthal, then they had very nice derrieres.
fourthrocker
4.3 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2010
A friend once said something that I think is profound. He said he would have sex with a woodpile if he thought a snake was in it. I think this pretty well summarizes male human sexuality and answers the question of whether or not we interbred with other species.
MediaWest
1.6 / 5 (14) Apr 21, 2010
i have been convinced for some time that some individuals who i have met from east europe, who have many psychical features of a neanderthal, like hair covering their whole body, cranial features that arent like western Europeans, and behavior that isn't like people that are more western.....

dna from people in country's that end in 'stan' might have that trait also....
Trim
5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
Bred twice with Neanderthals that must be a mistake my nymphomaniac great-great^100 grandmother was much more randy than that.
deatopmg
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 21, 2010
I wonder if the hybridization led to hybrid vigor which includes; the un-PC, but apparently higher IQ's of orientals and their higher reproduction rate. ???

@fourthrocker your friend is spot-on. I can't imagine how hybridization could NOT have occurred.
Parsec
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
Bred twice with Neanderthals that must be a mistake my nymphomaniac great-great^100 grandmother was much more randy than that.


Carefully reading the article implies to me that there were 2 periods where interbreeding took place, not 2 individuals. However the article really could more clear on this point.
Alizee
Apr 21, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
JayK
2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 21, 2010
If redheads have the genes of Neanderthals, we basically all do. Alizee (seneca, broglia and more) has no idea what she is talking about.
Alizee
Apr 21, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Coldstatic
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 22, 2010
And a Big foot encounters website is a reliable source of information??
Vsha
2.4 / 5 (5) Apr 22, 2010
i have been convinced for some time that some individuals who i have met from east europe, who have many psychical features of a neanderthal, like hair covering their whole body, cranial features that arent like western Europeans, and behavior that isn't like people that are more western.....

dna from people in country's that end in 'stan' might have that trait also....


Proof of archaic neanderthal thinking if ever it was needed.
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2010
I wonder if the hybridization led to hybrid vigor which includes; the un-PC, but apparently higher IQ's of orientals and their higher reproduction rate. ???
We all have the same 'rate' of reproduction. Culture and specifically religion, is what dictates how much reproducing we actually do.
Bred twice with Neanderthals that must be a mistake my nymphomaniac great-great^100 grandmother was much more randy than that
Theyre harder to catch and strong as a sumbitch.
patnclaire
1 / 5 (7) Apr 23, 2010
Wait a minute. I though that it was chimps who had interbred with humanity, twice?
Why would we want to create a Neanderthal? Look how we treat chimps...kill them, eat them, stuff them in cages, do horible experiments on them. Is that what you want to wish on this potential lab specimen? Hasn't anyone seen the movie A.I.? I like robots but do not want them because humans have not learned anything from their mamas.
Eaters of the Dead, anyone?
Husky
1.7 / 5 (11) Apr 24, 2010
it always struck me how aboriginals and some papoea bushtribes have that prominent neanderthal look that sets them appart from all other asians that have a smoother delicate apearance and neanthertall feautures in them might be reduced to dna fragmentsa. apperantly, being confined to island/continent kept the raw look alive.
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 24, 2010
it always struck me how aboriginals and some papoea bushtribes have that prominent neanderthal look that sets them appart from all other asians that have a smoother delicate apearance and neanthertall feautures in them might be reduced to dna fragmentsa. apperantly, being confined to island/continent kept the raw look alive.
Hey Mr. 19th century... Just what is the 'neanderthal look'? Ever see one? Why don't you go measure their skulls and let us know if they can ride on the same bus as us (or at least me)
ubavontuba
2 / 5 (8) Apr 24, 2010
I wonder if autism and other disorders might be more prevalent in interbred humans, or otherwise?
Husky
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2010
I have no problems with neanderthals on the bus nor any other branch of the human tree, no it struck me not in a 19th century prejustice confirming way, but more in a way as a kid has this honest wonder why, in an open question kind of way
Husky
5 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2010
in fact I believe that interbreeding has helped the man coming out of africa gaining foothold in a colder europe with less sunlight, wich obviously neanderthal was already equipped for.
Jonno
not rated yet Apr 26, 2010
I've got short bandy legs, a well developed occipital torus, a slightly less well developed supraorbital torus and ADHD; definite 'throwback' material *grin*. Unfortunately I have two separate eyebrows, a chin and a non-sloping forehead, otherwise I might have been able to get a job in a theme park.
Loodt
1.3 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2010
So the scientists managed to get hold of some of Gordon Brown's DNA?

That explains a lot!
CSharpner
5 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2010
Hey Mr. 19th century... Just what is the 'neanderthal look'? Ever see one? Why don't you go measure their skulls and let us know if they can ride on the same bus as us (or at least me)


Otto1923, I'm pretty sure he's just asking a straight forward question since this topic is on the issue of neanderthal DNA in current human DNA. Since they did mention some groups were found to have more than others (none in Africans, for example), that it might be likely that some groups may have enough to have an effect on their appearance. We /do/ know what neanderthals look like. Husky was simply making a visual observation and wondering if this is a result of more (rather than less) neanderthal DNA. No one here is claiming Neanderthals are/were unintelligent or anyone carrying their genes deserves fewer rights. As a matter of fact, most recent research suggests that neanderthals were quite intelligent. Also, neither was he (or this study) implying people with more are less evolved.
dolo
not rated yet Apr 26, 2010
Does this mean that Africans then are
"Pure" homo sapiens. - I think so.

Also, if Neanderthal genes may affect appearance what what about behavior ? Although we know very little about what they looked like and how they behaved.
enantiomer2000
Apr 28, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.