Man’s Genome From 45,000 Years Ago Is Reconstructed

Oct 28, 2014

Credit: Bence Viola/Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

By Carl Zimmer

Scientists have reconstructed the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago, by far the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, provided new clues to the expansion of modern humans from Africa about 60,000 years ago, when they moved into Europe and Asia.

And the genome, extracted from a fossil thighbone found in Siberia, added strong support to a provocative hypothesis: Early humans interbred with Neanderthals.

“It’s irreplaceable evidence of what once existed that we can’t reconstruct from what people are now,” said John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin who was not involved in the study. “It speaks to us with information about a time that’s lost to us.”

The discoveries were made by a team of scientists led by Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Over the past three decades, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have developed tools for plucking out fragments of DNA from fossils and reading their sequences.


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7 comments on “Man’s Genome From 45,000 Years Ago Is Reconstructed

  • 1
    bigterguy says:

    As the definition of a species is a group that can interbreed producing offspring, this merely means that at that particular time Homo Sapiens had not become a separate species from the Neanderthals. Perhaps the date is surprising, but nothing else should be. Wonderful work nonetheless.



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  • I always understood that different, but related species (eg horses and donkies), could mate to produce infertile offspring, but subspecies, which are components of the same species, could mate and produce fertile offspring (eg wolves, coyotes). This is said to be complicated by the fact that chains of subspecies will be able to produce fertile offspring with their close relations in the chain, but not necessarily with those less close to them.



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  • eejit Oct 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    This is said to be complicated by the fact that chains of subspecies will be able to produce fertile offspring with their close relations in the chain, but not necessarily with those less close to them.

    The continuity of nature does not fit into convenient classification boxes.

    While the formal definition of species is separate breeding populations drifting apart, sub-species and ring species complicate the issues.
    Then there are separate species which COULD breed to produce fertile offspring (Lions and Tigers), but cannot do so in the wild, because of geographical isolation.



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  • 5
    Light Wave says:

    Sapiens were never connected together with neanderthal….but they both shared the same if not similar parent species….homo heidelbergensis….



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  • 7
    Light Wave says:

    What I meant was Sapiens never separated from Neanderthal….Sapien evolved from Heidelbergensis in Africa and only when they left Africa did they later meet Neanderthal in Europe who also evolved from a more primitive version of Heidelbergenesis in Europe called Antecessor…..



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