In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

Ancient DNA pinpoints Paleolithic liaison in Europe

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 847
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6237.847

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Summary

A young man who lived in Romania 37,000 to 42,000 years inherited as much as one-tenth of his DNA from a Neandertal ancestor, according to a new study of ancient DNA. Ever since spelunkers found a robust jawbone in a cave in Romania in 2002, some paleoanthropologists have thought that its huge wisdom teeth and other features resembled those of Neandertals even though the fossil was a modern human. Now, by sequencing informative parts of the Romanian man's genome, an international team of researchers has found that he had inherited 4.8% to 11.3% of his genome from a Neandertal who lived only 200 years or so previously, according to a talk this month at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. The finding confirms that Neandertals interbred with modern humans more than once, and it is the first evidence that the two types of humans had a liaison in Europe.