In the last two years, a number of studies have suggested that early humans interbred with Neanderthals who were of short, stocky build and broad nose. Genetic evidence has also been published claiming that an estimated 1 percent to 4 percent of the DNA in modern Europeans and Asians was inherited from the Neanderthals. But a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge has raised doubts about the human-Neanderthal interspecies mating.
The study funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust explains that common ancestry, and not any hybridization, should be attributed to the genetic similarities between Neanderthals and modern humans.
The common ancestor for Neanderthals and modern humans is thought to have spanned Africa and Europe about half a million years ago. The European range and the African range became genetically isolated from one another about 300-350 thousand years ago. The European range evolved into Neanderthal while the African range eventually turned into modern humans.
As per the new study, the DNA of the modern human population in Northern Africa was ancestrally closer to Europe because of regional proximity. The modern humans in Northern Africa who retained genetic similarities with Neanderthals expanded out of Africa into Europe and Asia some sixty thousand to seventy thousand years ago, making Europeans and Asians more similar to Neanderthals.
Commenting on the findings, Andrea Manica, from the University of Cambridge, who led the study said, "Our work shows clearly that the patterns currently seen in the Neanderthal genome are not exceptional, and are in line with our expectations of what we would see without hybridization. So, if any hybridization happened - it's difficult to conclusively prove it never happened - then it would have been minimal and much less than what people are claiming now."
by RTT Staff Writer
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