Monday, April 11, 2016
Neanderthal Y chromosome offers clues to what kept us separate species
CELL PRESS—Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Human Genetics, published by Cell Press, have completed the first in-depth genetic analysis of a Neanderthal Y chromosome. The findings offer new insights into the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans and some of the genetic factors that might have kept the two lineages apart.
The Y chromosome was the main component remaining to be analyzed from the Neanderthal genome, the researchers say.
"Characterizing the Neanderthal Y chromosome helps us to better understand the population divergence that led to Neanderthals and modern humans," says Fernando Mendez of Stanford University. "It also enables us to explore possible genetic interactions between archaic and modern [gene] variants within hybrid offspring."
Mendez and his colleagues, including Carlos Bustamante, also at Stanford, and Sergi Castellano, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, analyzed the Y chromosome from a Neanderthal male found in El Sidrón, Spain. Their analysis suggests that Neanderthals and modern humans diverged almost 590,000 years ago, consistent with earlier evidence.
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