And Now, This Neanderthal News Update
Posted on Feb 27, 2012
Take this one to the Creation Museum: A team of researchers has advanced the idea, in a new journal article published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, that our Neanderthal cousins had mostly died out by the time we Homo sapiens entered the evolutionary scene in full force. The BBC has more.
DNA analysis suggests most Neanderthals in western Europe died out as early as 50,000 years ago - thousands of years before our own species appeared.
A small group of Neanderthals then recolonised parts of Europe, surviving for 10,000 years before vanishing.
The work is published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
An international team of researchers studied the variation, or diversity, in mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones of 13 Neanderthals.
This type of genetic information is passed down on the maternal line; because cells contain multiple copies of the mitochondrial genome, this DNA is easier to extract from ancient remains than the DNA found in the nuclei of cells.
Wikimedia Commons / FunkMonk (CC-BY-SA)
Here’s a shot of a Neanderthal footprint, preserved and on display at the Natural History Museum in Prague.