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What makes us different to Neanderthals ?


Posted on Friday, 20 December, 2013 | Comment icon 10 comments

A reconstruction of a Neanderthal face. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Tim Evanson
Scientists have come up with a list of the genes that distinguish us from our prehistoric cousins.
Humans may be the dominant species on the planet today, but thousands of years ago our ancestors shared the Earth with the Neanderthals, a species very similar to modern humans but that would ultimately die out despite being very close to us both physically and intellectually.

In an effort to learn more about what set us apart, scientists have been identifying specific genes that distinguish modern humans from Neanderthals. In particular, researchers have been keen to learn which changes might have been instrumental in enabling our dominance over the planet.

The research was made possible thanks to a project founded in 2006 that aimed to sequence the entire Neanderthal genome. The team managed to do this by extracting DNA from a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal toe bone discovered in the mountains of Siberia.

"We are quite confident that among these genetic changes lie the basis for the interesting differences between modern humans and Neanderthals," said geneticist Janet Kelso.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (10)

Tags: Neanderthal

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Leonardo on 20 December, 2013, 16:13
The Neanderthal face reconstruction looks like a cross between Robert Di Niro and Gerard Depardieu - with a bit more hair, of course!
Comment icon #2 Posted by highdesert50 on 20 December, 2013, 16:23
These genetic exchanges were likely a positive event in evolutionary history as there was likely a high degree of parental consanguinity, or inbreeding, and subsequently higher prevalence of mental retardation and metabolic defects in the smaller more isolated tribes.
Comment icon #3 Posted by freetoroam on 20 December, 2013, 17:18
HUH! I have met many a Neanderthal man in my time! Ok the features may have changed, but inside they are still wearing the same genes.
Comment icon #4 Posted by moonshadow60 on 20 December, 2013, 18:56
Looks pretty normal to me, a rugged he-man type.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Xynoplas on 20 December, 2013, 19:51
Probably an adaptation to Ice-Age conditions, mostly.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sundew on 20 December, 2013, 20:09
HUH! I have met many a Neanderthal man in my time! Ok the features may have changed, but inside they are still wearing the same genes. I hear some are doing quite well in Congress.
Comment icon #7 Posted by calaf on 20 December, 2013, 23:15
I hear some are doing quite well in Congress. By their own account.
Comment icon #8 Posted by ShadowSot on 20 December, 2013, 23:27
I hear some are doing quite well in Congress. Don't insult Neanderthals so.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Sundew on 21 December, 2013, 1:06
Don't insult Neanderthals so. My bad.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Azznerak the Black on 21 December, 2013, 2:03
Go to a grocery store on the 1st of the month and try to tell me that Neanderthals went extinct...


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