Nav: Home

Ancient DNA analysis adds chapter to the story of neanderthal migrations

June 26, 2019

After managing to obtain DNA from two 120,000-year-old European Neandertals, researchers report that these specimens are more genetically similar to Neandertals that lived in Europe 80,000 year later than they are to a Neandertal of similar age found in Siberia. The findings, which reveal a stable, 80,000-year ancestry for European Neandertals, also suggest that this group may have migrated east and replaced some Siberian Neandertal populations. The work begins to unravel the early history of Neandertals, which has otherwise been inaccessible since DNA predating 100,000 years ago was lacking. Bone samples and genetic evidence indicate that Neanderthals lived in Europe and Central Asia until about 40,000 years ago. Recent studies have shown that those last Neanderthals all belonged to a single group, descended from a common ancestor who lived 97,000 years ago. However, a Neanderthal dated to 90,000 years ago found in Denisova Cave in modern day Siberia appears to be more closely related to those late Neanderthals than to the so-called Altai Neanderthal found in the same cave, but dated to 120,000 years ago. This suggests that there had been an early Neanderthal migration into Siberia, followed by a later migration from Europe that replaced the earlier population. To clarify how this happened, Stéphane Peyrégne and colleagues obtained nuclear DNA samples from Western European Neanderthals who lived about 120,000 years ago -- one from Scladina Cave in Belgium (called Scladina), and the other from Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave in Germany (HST). Using advanced techniques to account for microbial and present-day human DNA contamination, the study authors found that Scladina and HST were members of a population in Western Europe that gave rise to all currently identified Neanderthals except the Altai Neanderthal. This suggests that the population to which the Scladina and HST belonged lived in Western Europe contemporaneously with the Altai population in Siberia and later migrated east to replace them. Surprisingly, the researchers also found highly divergent mitochondrial DNA in HST, indicating an even more complex history that warrants further investigation.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Neanderthals Articles:

The last Neanderthal necklace
For the first time, researchers found evidence of the ornamental uses of eagle talons in the Iberian Peninsula.
Insight into competitive advantage of modern humans over Neanderthals
A team of Japanese and Italian researchers, including from Tohoku University, have evidenced mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe dating to 45,000-40,000 years -- more than 20,000 years than previously thought.
Did a common childhood illness take down the neanderthals?
A new study suggests that the extinction of Neanderthals may be tied to persistent, life-long ear infections due to the structure of their Eustachian tubes, which are similar to those of human infants.
Denisovan finger bone more closely resembles modern human digits than Neanderthals
Scientists have identified the missing part of a finger bone fragment from the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, revealing that Denisovans -- an early human population discovered when the original fragment was genetically sequenced in 2010 -- had fingers indistinguishable from modern humans despite being more closely related to Neanderthals.
Neanderthals commonly suffered from 'swimmer's ear'
Abnormal bony growths in the ear canal were surprisingly common in Neanderthals, according to a study published Aug.
Neanderthals used resin 'glue' to craft their stone tools
Archaeologists working in two Italian caves have discovered some of the earliest known examples of ancient humans using an adhesive on their stone tools -- an important technological advance called 'hafting.'
Neanderthals made repeated use of the ancient settlement of 'Ein Qashish, Israel
The archaeological site of 'Ein Qashish in northern Israel was a place of repeated Neanderthal occupation and use during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a study released June 26, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ravid Ekshtain of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues.
Ancient DNA analysis adds chapter to the story of neanderthal migrations
After managing to obtain DNA from two 120,000-year-old European Neandertals, researchers report that these specimens are more genetically similar to Neandertals that lived in Europe 80,000 year later than they are to a Neandertal of similar age found in Siberia.
Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago
Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, substantially earlier than indicated by most DNA-based estimates, according to new research by a UCL academic.
Woolly mammoths and Neanderthals may have shared genetic traits
A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that the genetic profiles of two extinct mammals with African ancestry -- woolly mammoths and Neanderthals -- shared molecular characteristics of adaptation to cold environments.
More Neanderthals News and Neanderthals Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.