In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

Neandertals mated early with modern humans

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.14

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Summary

For almost a century, Neandertals were considered the ancestors of modern humans. But now, in a new plot twist in the unfolding mystery of how Neandertals were related to modern humans, it seems that members of our own lineage were among the ancestors of Neandertals. Researchers sequenced ancient DNA from the mitochondria—the tiny energy factories inside cells—from a Neandertal that lived at least 100,000 years ago in southwest Germany, and found that its mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) resembled that of modern humans. In a new report in Nature Communications, researchers conclude that this Neandertal, as well as others whose mtDNA was previously sequenced, inherited their mitochondrial genomes from mating with an early ancestor of Homo sapiens.

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