Close Encounters of the Prehistoric Kind

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 680-684
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.680

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On page 710 of this week's issue of Science, an international team of researchers presents their first detailed analysis of the draft sequence of the Neandertal genome, which now includes more than 3 billion nucleotides collected from the bones of three female Neandertals who lived in Croatia more than 38,000 years ago. By comparing this composite Neandertal genome with the complete genomes of five living humans from different parts of the world, the researchers found that both Europeans and Asians share 1% to 4% of their nuclear DNA with Neandertals. But Africans do not. This suggests that early modern humans interbred with Neandertals after moderns left Africa, but before they spread into Asia and Europe. In a separate paper (p. 723), the team describes and successfully tests a new method for filling in gaps in the rough draft of the genome.