All modern humans have Neanderthal DNA, say researchers
| Jan 30, 2020
CNN – We all likely have a bit of Neanderthal in our DNA — including Africans who had been thought to have no genetic link to our extinct human relative, a new study finds.
Evidence that our early ancestors had babies with Neanderthals first emerged in 2010 when the first genome, extracted from the bones of the Stone Age hominins who populated Europe until around 40,000 years ago, was sequenced.
They found that modern Europeans, Asians and Americans — but not Africans — inherited about 2% of the genes from Neanderthals, with our ancestors apparently hooking up with their stocky cousins only after they moved out of Africa.
However, researchers from Princeton University now believe, based on a new computational method, that Africans do in fact have Neanderthal DNA and that very early human history was more complex than many might think.
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“This is the first time we can detect the actual signal of Neanderthal ancestry in Africans,” said Lu Chen, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics (LSI) and a co-author of a new paper that published Thursday in the journal Cell.
Joshua Akey, a professor at LSI who led the study, suggested their findings cast doubt on the widely held “out of Africa” theory of human migration — that modern humans originated in Africa and made a single dispersal to the rest of the world in a single wave between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago … Read more.