Research Confirms Humans Are Part Neanderthal

Author: University of Montreal
Published: 2012/02/28 - Updated: 2022/08/23 - Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Contents: Summary - Definition - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: Researchers find part of the non-African human X chromosome came from Neanderthals, confirming they interbred with early human populations. Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, evolved in what is now mainly France, Spain, Germany, and Russia and are thought to have lived until about 30,000 years ago. Meanwhile, early modern humans left Africa about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago. Dr. Labuda and his colleagues were the first to identify a genetic variation in non-Africans likely to have come from an archaic population. This was done entirely without the Neanderthal genome sequence, but in light of the Neanderthal sequence, it is clear they were right.

Introduction

Some human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals and is found exclusively in people outside Africa, according to an international team of researchers led by Damian Labuda of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center. The research was published in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Main Digest

"This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred," says Dr. Labuda. His team places the timing of such intimate contacts and family ties early on, probably at the crossroads of the Middle East.

Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, evolved in what is now mainly France, Spain, Germany, and Russia and are thought to have lived until about 30,000 years ago. Meanwhile, early modern humans left Africa about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago. The question on everyone's mind has always been whether the physically stronger Neanderthals, who possessed the gene for language and may have played the flute, were a separate species or could have interbred with modern humans. The answer is yes, the two lived in close association.

"In addition, because our methods were independent of Neanderthal material, we can also conclude that previous results were not influenced by contaminating artifacts," adds Dr. Labuda.

Dr. Labuda and his team, almost a decade ago, had identified a piece of DNA (called a haplotype) in the human X chromosome that seemed different and whose origins they questioned. When the Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010, they quickly compared 6000 chromosomes from all parts of the world to the Neanderthal haplotype. The Neanderthal sequence was present in peoples across all continents, except for sub-Saharan Africa, including Australia.

"There is little doubt that this haplotype is present because of mating with our ancestors and Neanderthals. This is a very nice result, and further analysis may help determine more details," says Dr. Nick Patterson, of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, a major researcher in human ancestry who was not involved in this study.

"Dr. Labuda and his colleagues were the first to identify a genetic variation in non-Africans that was likely to have come from an archaic population. This was done entirely without the Neanderthal genome sequence. Still, in light of the Neanderthal sequence, it is now clear that they were right!" adds Dr. David Reich, a Harvard Medical School geneticist, one of the principal researchers in the Neanderthal genome project.

So, speculates Dr. Labuda, did these exchanges contribute to our global success?

"Variability is significant for long-term survival of a species," says Dr. Labuda. "Every addition to the genome can be enriching." An interesting match, indeed.

"An X-linked haplotype of the Neanderthal origin is present among all non-African populations" was published in the July 2011 issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. The authors are Vania Yotova, Jean-Francois Lefebvre, Claudia Moreau, Elias Gbeha, Kristine Hovhannesyan, Stephane Bourgeois, Sandra Bedarida, Luisa Azevedo, Antonio Amorim, Tamara Sarkisian, Patrice Hodonou Avogbe, Nicodeme Chabi, Mamoudou Hama Dicko, Emile Sabiba Kou' Santa Amouzou, Ambaliou Sanni, June Roberts-Thomson, Barry Boettcher, Rodney J. Scott, and Damian Labuda. The study was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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This peer reviewed publication titled Research Confirms Humans Are Part Neanderthal was chosen for publishing by Disabled World's editors due to its relevance to the disability community. While the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity, it was originally authored by University of Montreal and published 2012/02/28 (Edit Update: 2022/08/23). For further details or clarifications, you can contact University of Montreal directly at umontreal.ca/en/ Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

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