We are not all Neanderthal: this is how science proceeds

31 Jan

Why Evolution Is True

by Matthew Cobb

You may recall that back in October we reported the amazing discovery that, as I put it in the headline, “Neanderthal genes are everywhere“. Up until then, it had been thought that only those human populations outside of Africa carried Neanderthal genes, as a consequence of our ancestors having mated with our Neanderthal cousins—mainly in Europe and the Middle East. People from sub-Saharan Africa, it was thought, did not carry those genes, because their ancestors did not leave Africa, and so didn’t meet the Neanderthals (whose ancestors had left Africa several hundred thousand years earlier).

What happened in October was that a group of researchers from around the world, led by Gallego Llorente of Cambridge University, studied the DNA of Mota, an Ethopian man who lived around 4,500 years ago. They found that he carried an unexpectedly high proportion of DNA from European populations, including DNA…

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