Neanderthal DNA sequenced

Early findings suggest Neanderthal and human DNA diverged about 500,000 years ago

Charles Q. Choi
Nov 14, 2006
More than one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA have been sequenced, according to findings appearing this week in Nature and Science that could begin to shed light on whether humans and Neanderthals interbred and when they diverged genetically."These are just proof-of-principle findings, but they're very exciting in how they demonstrate the feasibility of a larger-scale Neanderthal genome project, which if successful will provide a key reference for understanding human evolution," Bruce Lahn at the University of Chicago, who did not participate in the studies, told The Scientist.The researchers investigated fragments of nuclear DNA roughly 100 to 200 base pairs long, which were extracted from a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal bone from Vindija Cave in Croatia. Ninety-four percent of the hominid DNA from the bone appeared to be of Neanderthal origin.In their Nature paper, Svante Paabo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues sequenced more...