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'Incestuous secrets of Neanderthals' revealed in new research on 50,000 year old female

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 December 2013

Toe bone DNA research uncovers the sexual relationships of cave-dwellers from Altai foothills in Siberia.

Paabo said it was possible the Altai Neanderthals were 'such a small population that you've hardly any other choice' in sex partners, hence the interbreeding, though it matches findings of Neanderthanls from Europe. Picture: NY Times

Scientists say they have completed the first high-quality sequence of a Siberian Neanderthal female, whose bone fragment was found in the Denisova cave in Altai region. The international study - reported in Nature journal today - indicates a high level of inbreeding among our ancient relatives.

Yet it also shows breeding between different groups, namely the Denisovans, mated with Neanderthals, and humans plus a third, as yet dimly visible hominin living in Asia. 'We can see that the mama and papa of the individuals were very closely related - half siblings or so,' said research team leader Svante Paabo, of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. 

The lack of diversity in the genetic material shows scientists that sex between closely related Siberia Neanderthals was regular generations before this female's time. Paabo said it was possible the Altai Neanderthals were 'such a small population that you've hardly any other choice' in sex partners, hence the interbreeding, though it matches findings of Neanderthanls from Europe. 

Denisova Cave Altai mountains Siberia


Denisova Cave Altai mountains Siberia

Denisova cave, Altai mountains, Siberia. Pictures: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

'We present a high-quality genome sequence of a Neanderthal woman from Siberia. We show that her parents were related at the level of half-siblings and that mating among close relatives was common among her recent ancestors,' stated the study.

'We also sequenced the genome of a Neanderthal from the Caucasus to low coverage. An analysis of the relationships and population history of available archaic genomes and 25 present-day human genomes shows that several gene flow events occurred among Neanderthals, Denisovans and early modern humans, possibly including gene flow into Denisovans from an unknown archaic group, possibly 'home erectus'.

'Thus, interbreeding, albeit of low magnitude, occurred among many hominin groups in the Late Pleistocene. In addition, the high-quality Neanderthal genome allows us to establish a definitive list of substitutions that became fixed in modern humans after their separation from the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans.'

'Neanderthals live on a little bit in people living outside Africa today,' said Paabo, representing 2 percent of the genome of all humans not originating from Africa. 

Separate DNA analysis of the remains of a 50,000 year old girl's finger from the Altai cave earlier revealed the identity of a new type of human in 2010 - 'the Denisovans', closely related to the Neanderthals. Science Now reported that the findings could have a direct benefit for in understanding modern man's propensity to disease. 

Separate DNA analysis of the remains of a 50,000 year old girl's finger from the Altai cave earlier revealed the identity of a new type of human in 2010 - 'the Denisovans', closely related to the Neanderthals.

Separate DNA analysis of the remains of a 50,000 year old girl's finger from the Altai cave earlier revealed the identity of a new type of human in 2010 - 'the Denisovans', closely related to the Neanderthals. Picture: NY Times

Geneticist Tomas Lindahl of London Research Institute said: 'The most remarkable achievement has been to show that genetically meaningful and credible sequence data can be obtained from these fossil[s].'

This could lead to finding genes that modern humans have inherited from Neanderthals that either cause disease or protect us from it.

'There is also an interesting question of what, if anything, Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA may be doing in the people that have it today, and whether it has been of benefit or detriment to our species,' added Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, who was unconnected with the work.

The authors of 'The complete genome sequence of a Neanderthal from the Altai Mountains' include Kay Prufer, Fernando Racimo, Nick Patterson, Flora Jay, Sriram Sankararaman, Susanna Sawyer, Anja Heinze, Gabriel Renaud, Peter Sudmant, Cesare de Filippo, Heng Li, Swapan Mallick, Michael Dannemann, Qiaomei Fu, Martin Kircher, Martin Kuhlwilm, Michael Lachmann, Matthias Meyer, Matthias Ongyerth, Michael Siebauer, Christoph Theunert, Arti Tandon, Priya Moorjani, Joseph Pickrell, James Mullikin, Samuel Vohr, Richard Green, Ines Hellmann, Philip Johnson, Helene Blanche, Howard Cann, Jacob Kitzman, Jay Shendure, Evan Eichler, Ed Lein, Trygve Bakken, Liubov Golovanova, Vladimir Doronichev, Michael Shunkov, Anatoli Derevianko, Bence Viola, Montgomery Slatkin, David Reich, Janet Kelso and Svante Paabo.

Comments (2)

The Altai Mountains a truly spectacular eye catching location ,the pictures even though beautiful and awe inspiring do not do it justice .

Not surprisingly there are very early signs of humans that lived there 50,000 yrs ago . It would have been natures "Super Market " as it is still today.

A place in which early humans,flora and fauna flourished in this land of plenty.

We now need a discovery of such magnitude and with irrevocable proof that humans are not just mammals but the most lethal predator animal on this planet.

Now before other humans bite and tear me to pieces ,we already know this fact ,but religions of all faiths have blocked a view to this now very sound theory for reasons that are now becoming more and more obvious everyday .Without religious interference the concept of ourselves becomes too frighteningly clear.

The wars, the wasted lives ,the persecutions , the agony and pain of so many now and in the past has been a curse on humanity from the beginning of time ,caused simply by our blind refusal to see,look. observe, perceive for ourselves .

FAITH is the blindfold of knowledge and those that use this type of theory to justify anything they do or say are a backward culture

Science is the key to knowledge and you don't need any "faith' to know this to be true ,

So archeologist and palaeontologist , please keep finding and digging up the proof about the origin of "man".and one day in the hopeful near future let's all respect the fact that we share this beautiful planet alas for such a short time, and to enjoy this existence let's all live happily and in harmony ,where no religion divides and separates us.

Wow a place like the Altai Mountains ,with its lush growth its pristine rivers ,its rich bounty of food

would have been a great place for humans to start their quest for domination over all other forms of life .



Patrick .
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
21/12/2013 21:25
2
The oldest DNA research in the World from Max Planck has been done with a 400,000 years old body from the Sima de los Huesos in Spain, and it has found out it related to Siberia.
Enrique, Spain
21/12/2013 19:11
1
1

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