Friday, August 8, 2008

Neanderthal Mitochondrial DNA Sequenced

Mitochondrial DNA places the human/neanderthal split at 660K years ago, with no or very rare interbreeding likely.

Leg bone yields DNA secrets of man's Neanderthal 'Eve' | Science | The Guardian
Researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, read the complete sequence of DNA held in tiny biological powerhouses called mitochondria, which provide energy for cells. The mitochondria are only passed down the female line, so can be used to trace the species back to an ancestral "Eve", the mother of all Neanderthals. The team analysed the DNA of 13 genes from the Neanderthal mitochondria and found they were distinctly different to modern humans, suggesting Neanderthals never, or rarely, interbred with early humans. The genetic material shows that a Neanderthal "Eve" lived around 660,000 years ago, when the species last shared a common ancestor with humans.

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