Neanderthals Interbreeding With Ancient Humans Caused Their Extinction

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According to a recent study conducted by German researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, early humans, our ancestors, hadn’t wiped out the Neanderthals. In reality, the scientists say that Neanderthals interbreeding with ancient humans caused their extinction.

Several DNA tests conducted on samples gathered from fossils belonging to three different species, the Neanderthals, early humans, and modern humans, indicated that interbreeding was the real cause of the neanderthals decline.

“It means they were incorporated, which is why we see so many of their genes living on in modern Europeans,” said Svante Paabo, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Researchers consider that Neanderthals evolved from the first human species that left Africa about 450,000 years ago. According to previous studies, Neanderthals bred and spread across Eurasia, but their populations started to decline about 60,000 years ago when Homo Sapiens emerged.

Neanderthals Interbreeding With Ancient Humans Caused Their Extinction

About 30,000 years ago, Neanderthals populations disappeared forever. Until now, scientists believed that modern humans wiped them out, but, according to the new German study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Neanderthals interbred with Homo Sapiens.

“If we look at a few thousand genomes we can pick out 15,000 Neanderthal genes – so at least half their genome is walking around in people today,” explained Svante Paabo.

The results of this German research, promoted researchers in the US to look into Neanderthal’s genetic influence on people today, Daily Mail reported. Accordingly, a study led by Michael Gregory of the US National Institute of Mental Health estimated the people’s so-called NeanderScore (how much genetic material is inherited from Neanderthals) by carrying out several DNA tests.

The study concluded that people with higher NeanderScore present similar characteristics with the Neanderthals. Also, Neanderthals genetic legacy is found in all modern-day humans’ genome.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.


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