Researchers in Leipzig have successfully sequenced the genetic code of a Neanderthal, and found some overlap with modern-day Europeans. The finding provides insight into the evolution of humans -- and could be a blow to racists.
An international team led by scientists based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have successfully sequenced the Neanderthal genome, the first time the genetic code of an extinct human relative has been decoded.
By comparing the Neanderthal genome to modern human genes, the researchers say, it's possible to isolate the parts of our genetic code that makes humans human -- and tell once and for all whether humans and Neanderthals may once have mated. "Having a first version of the Neanderthal genome fulfils a long-standing dream," Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Director Svante Pääbo said in an announcement. "For the first time now we can identify genetic features that set us apart from all other organisms, including our closest evolutionary relatives."
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