Announcing a two year Neandertal genome decoding project ...
"If Dr. Pääbo and 454 Life Sciences should succeed in reconstructing the entire Neanderthal genome, it might in theory be possible to bring the species back from extinction by inserting the Neanderthal genome into a human egg and having volunteers bear Neanderthal infants. This might be the best possible way of finding out what each Neanderthal gene does, but there would be daunting ethical problems in bringing a Neanderthal child into the world again."
How Neandertal DNA Will Shed Light on Human Genes
Neandertals, our most closely related cousins, vanished approximately 30,000 years ago, leaving only traces of their existence. Now scientists in Germany and Connecticut plan to resurrect their DNA, potentially shedding light on our own unique evolutionary path.
454 Life Sciences' Genome Sequencer 20(TM) Wins R&D 100 Award
ScienceDaily: Neandertal Genome To Be Deciphered
Max Planck Society - Press Release Neandertal Genome to be Deciphered
But it seems that it has taken ten years to get this project off the ground
Neandertal DNA Archaeology September/October 1997
For the first time, DNA of a premodern human has been recovered. Svante Pääbo of the University of Munich and colleagues in Germany and the United States successfully extracted the DNA from a right humerus (upper arm bone) of a Neandertal. Their findings, presented in the July issue of the journal Cell, provide important information about when Neandertals and modern humans diverged from a common ancestor, the nature of interaction between Neandertals and modern humans, and the ultimate fate of the Neandertals.
Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans.
Furthermore, the age of the common ancestor of the Neandertal and modern human mtDNAs is estimated to be four times greater than that of the common ancestor of human mtDNAs. This suggests that Neandertals went extinct without contributing mtDNA to modern humans.
Are you a Neandertal? Take the genome sequency quiz on how much you know about Neandertal DNA. The Neandertal Mystery (and human history)
With all this news about Neandertal's in 2006 it could be because this is the 150 anniversary of the first discovery of Neandertal.
The 1856 discovery of the Neandertal type specimen (Neandertal 1) in western Germany marked the beginning of human paleontology and initiated the longest-standing debate in the discipline: the role of Neandertals in human evolutionary history
We may have coexisted but human Neandertal interaction appears limited to humans taking over long deserted Neandertal caves. Scientists find contention in the idea that their was social interaction and mating between us For instance a the conclusion in a 2004 Study found: No Evidence of Neandertal mtDNA Contribution to Early Modern Humans.
But that was contradicted this summer by the release of this study:
There is a little Neanderthal in a lot of us
People who have large noses, a stocky build and a beetle brow may indeed be a little Neanderthal, according to a genetic study. But the good news is that other research concludes that Neanderthals were much more like us than previously thought.
People of European descent may be five per cent Neanderthal, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, which suggests we all have a sprinkling of archaic DNA in our genes.
"Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years," says Dr Vincent Plagnol, of the University of Southern California, who with Dr Jeffrey Wall analysed 135 different regions of the human genetic code. "Possible Ancestral Structure in Human Populations".Meanwhile our cousins appear to have survived longer than once thought.Carbon dating confirms Neandertals lived longer along with modern humans than previously thought. Giving more evidence of possible interaction.
Neandertals' Last Stand Was in Gibraltar, Study Suggests
A new cave discovery suggests that Neandertals survived until at least 28,000 years ago—2,000 years longer than previously thought. The Iberian Peninsula—now home to Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar—was a final holdout for Neandertals (often spelled "Neanderthals") as modern humans spread across the rest of Europe and an ice age descended, a new study says .
The Last of the Neandertals?
The Gibraltar dates appear to represent the latest known Neandertal sighting, because there are no other accepted sites younger than 30,000 uncalibrated years ago. But the Gibraltar Neandertals were not entirely alone: Although there are very few modern human sites in southern Spain or Portugal at that time, one site about 100 kilometers east at Bajondillo, Spain, has been dated to about 32,000 uncalibrated years ago. The team concludes that Neandertals did not rapidly disappear from the area as moderns advanced across Europe but co-existed with them by taking refuge at Gibraltar and other southern sites over thousands of years. "While pioneer modern humans were staking tenuous footholds" in the region, the last Neandertals "were hanging on," Finlayson says. He points out that Gibraltar was surrounded by coastal wetlands and woodlands and blessed with mild temperatures around this time, making the peninsula an excellent refuge from competition with the moderns.
But they were not wiped out by modern humans. No siree....wait for it.....Climate Change may have had something to do with it.
Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge