Dating encounters between modern humans and Neandertals


To discover why Neandertals are most closely related to people outside Africa, Harvard and Max Planck Institute scientists have estimated the date when Neandertals and modern Europeans last shared ancestors. The research, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, provides a historical context for the interbreeding. It suggests that it occurred when modern humans carrying Upper Paleolithic technologies encountered Neandertals as they expanded out of Africa.

When the Neandertal genome was sequenced in 2010 it revealed that people outside Africa share slightly more genetic variants with Neandertals than Africans do. One scenario that could explain this observation is that modern humans mixed with Neandertals when they came out of Africa. An alternative, but more complex, scenario is that ancestral to both Neandertals and modern humans remained subdivided over a few hundred thousand years and that those more related to Neandertals subsequently left Africa.

Dr. Sriram Sankararaman and colleagues measured the length of DNA pieces in the genomes of Europeans that are similar to Neandertals. Since recombination between chromosomes when egg and are formed reduces the size of such pieces in each generation, the Neandertal-related pieces will be smaller the longer they have spent in the genomes of present-day people.

Written By: PhysOrg
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  1. dating encounters…this suggests that Neandertals had children…

    This whole article sounds like a Maury Povich show :p

  2. bluebird,

    On a quick scan of the title I thought the same thing.  “Dating”? Give me break.  I should think that on this website we would be able to dispense with the euphemism.  It was hot primate love in the pleistocene. Who the hell needs “dating”?

  3. You two beat me to it on the ‘dating’ – although I wonder, is the ‘pleistocene’ a polite name for the ‘man-cave’.

  4. You know, the man-cave thing just isn’t working for me…I had more in mind something like a pleistocene bed and breakfast with a cozy fireplace somewhere in Vermont in the Autumn….

  5. The mixup more likely happened like this:
    Note: forget about the local Legends of superpowers and Cryptids and stay with the Facts. An “ugly” female wild Child (most probably of asian/mongolian origin) stays with the only “Family” it knows and gets pregnant despite being very “ugly” and “crazy”.

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