Reevaluation of Neanderthal DNA

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September 06, 2007

The suggestion interbreeding occurred between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens nearly 40,000 years ago, announced in papers published last November in both Science and Nature, has now been called into question. An evolutionary geneticist, Jeffrey Wall, working in San Francisco reevaluated DNA extracted from 38,000 year old Neanderthal fossils found in Croatia and concluded there had been contamination from modern human DNA. Quoting from the article in the September 5 2007 issue of Nature, "Contamination of ancient samples may have led to claims that humans and Neanderthals interbred. A groundbreaking analysis of Neanderthal DNA that suggested they interbred with humans was based on samples contaminated with human DNA, a new study suggests."

Wall's reevaluation also confirmed a date of 700,000 years ago for the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. Read the full story by clicking on the link.

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