Feb 03, 2011 12:09 AM GMT
Neanderthal Genes Found in Modern Humans
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703686304575228380902037988.html"We do not find any evidence of Neanderthal gene flow into Africans," said population geneticist David Reich at Harvard University Medical School, who helped analyze the Neanderthal genome. "What we find is shared equally by Europeans, East Asians and Papua, New Guineans."
From that pattern, the researchers deduced that prehistoric humans encountered their Neanderthal mates in the Middle East as small human bands first migrated out of their African homeland. There may have just been a few encounters. "A little interbreeding would have spread those genes far and wide," said British anthropologist Chris Stringer at London's Natural History Museum.
Based on these findings, several anthropologists questioned whether Neanderthals should continue to be considered a separate species. Typically, when different species mate, they don't produce fertile offspring. "I really think when you get up to 2%-to-5% genetic overlap, it is probably not wise to think of these as a separate species," said anthropologist Fred Smith at Illinois State University who studies Neanderthals.