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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Neandertal DNA Spells Separate Origins
28 March 2000 5:00 pm
The second mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis from a Neandertal--and the first to be done on clearly dated remains--will be disappointing news for those who like the idea of having Neandertals as ancestors.
The new analysis, by William Goodwin of the University of Glasgow and colleagues in Russia and Sweden, is from fragments of the skeleton of an infant Neandertal recently found in a limestone cave in the northern Caucasus, radiocarbon dated to about 29,000 years. The DNA is thus from one of the easternmost as well as most recent populations of Neandertals.
The scientists report in the 29 March issue of Nature that the 256-base pair sequence is 3.48% different from the 379-base pair sequence from the original type specimen, from western Germany's Neander Valley, whose mtDNA was analyzed in 1997 (Science, 11 July 1997, p. 176). That is similar to differences within modern human populations. Neither Neandertal sequence is closer to Europeans than to any other modern human population, giving another knock to the "multiregional" hypothesis, which postulates that modern humans evolved separately in more than one location, and allows for some mixing with Neandertals.
Fred Smith, a multiregional sympathizer at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, says the new analysis doesn't alter his thinking. "It may well be that 30,000 years ago [not just Neandertals' but] everybody's mtDNA was that much different" from that of modern humans, he says.
Goodwin says the preservation of enough DNA to allow for sequencing in the Caucasus sample raises the likelihood that more will be found to yield secrets of Neandertal population genetics.