Sequencing of oldest Neanderthal DNA deepens understanding of Neanderthal history
DNA from 28 individual fossils found inside a Spanish cave has been sequenced. The oldest Neanderthal DNA yet discovered will help researchers to understand more about ancient humans. The cave from where the DNA has been found is said to be home to a 400,000-year-old burial site called Sima de los Huesos.
“Sima de los Huesos is currently the only non-permafrost site that allow[s] us to study DNA sequences from the Middle Pleistocene, the time period preceding 125,000 years ago”, said study’s lead author Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
The researchers have analyzed the mitochondrial DNA obtained from ancestors’ tooth, shoulder blade and femur. The analysis unveiled a relationship between the individuals and the revealed a relationship between the individuals and the Denisovans, an extinct Neanderthal group in Asia.
Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said that such findings keep pushing them to expand the search of evolution of humans.
The study has found that the DNA sequences diverged more than twice as far back along the lineage from the Altai Neanderthal genome to its ancestors shared with the Denisovan genome that DNA sequences of the Late Pleistocene Neanderthals.
The findings as per the researchers will deepen the understanding of Neanderthal history. In fact, they are making scientists to cancel their original thoughts that Neanderthals were very primitive ancestral humans.
The researchers said that as more about the ancient humans’ capabilities is unveiled; their thinking about Neanderthals has changed. Microfossils found in their teeth have unveiled that Neanderthals had a varied diet that included sea food, rabbits, date palms and grass seeds.
The genome suggests that the Neanderthals mated with human ancestors and the preserving parts of the same have been found in Sima de los Huesos, Spain as well.
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