Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Are you descended from Neanderthals?

Svante Pääbo, at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has been studying Neanderthal DNA. His findings have shown that Neanderthals didn’t become completely extinct after all, but became assimilated into Homo sapiens (that's modern man, ie you) through inter-breeding.

Svante Pääbo's results suggest that between 1 – 4 % of the DNA of all humans who aren’t sub-Saharan Africans has its root in Neanderthals.

 I don’t know about you, but to me that's both thrilling and a great honour - and it does explain my occasional urges to club people over the head with the leg-bone of an ox, too.*

I suppose I ought to say here that Dr Andrea Manica of Cambridge University believes that any similarities between human and Neanderthal DNA is probably the result of a single shared ancestor half a million years ago.

 I know I’m being unreasonable, but personally I think that Dr Manica is being a bit of a spoil-sport.

 *Joke! Mostly.


  1. I feel like that about the ox bone sometimes but only very rarely! Still, proud to have some Neanderthal DNA in my makeup.

  2. Did you know that Health and Safety regulations have actually banned the sale of the leg bones of oxen from supermarkets for just this reason?


    ...oh, all right, they haven't, then. But it wouldn't surprise me!