In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

Africans, too, carry Neanderthal genetic legacy

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Science  31 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6477, pp. 497
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6477.497

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Summary

For the first time, significant and widespread sequences of Neanderthal ancestry have been detected in modern African populations. It was widely assumed that Africans possessed little Neanderthal DNA because modern humans only interbred with them once migrating out of Africa. Yet by using a new statistical model that estimates whether stretches of modern DNA are inherited from an ancient reference population—in this case, Neanderthals—the researchers behind a new study learned that five widespread African subpopulations each contained about 17 megabases of DNA inherited from Neanderthals, making up about 0.3% of their genomes. Africans owe this shared Neanderthal ancestry to a relatively recent back-migration of Europeans, as well a much earlier, failed out-of-Africa migration more than 100,000 years ago that introduced human DNA into Neanderthals.

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