They have been extinct for 30,000 years, but a small part of the Neanderthals lives on in the DNA of every person with ancestors outside Africa.
The genetic code of Neanderthal Man has revealed that Homo sapiens mated with our closest evolutionary relatives soon after migrating out of Africa, leaving traces that can still be detected in human DNA.
A comparison of the genomes of the two human species has shown that between 1 and 4 per cent of the DNA of modern non-Africans has a Neanderthal origin, while no Neanderthal genes can be detected in Africans today. This indicates that the first modern humans to leave the continent must have interbred with Neanderthals they encountered, probably in the Middle East. Their descendants went on to populate the other continents.
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