Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm a Hybrid

Just read the article: Neanderthals may have interbred with humans over at which simultaneously blew me away and confirmed what I've always thought. Here's an excerpt:

The researchers arrived at that conclusion by studying genetic data from 1,983 individuals from 99 populations in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Sarah Joyce, a doctoral student working with Long, analyzed 614 microsatellite positions, which are sections of the genome that can be used like fingerprints. She then created an evolutionary tree to explain the observed genetic variation in microsatellites. The best way to explain that variation was if there were two periods of interbreeding between humans and an archaic species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or H. heidelbergensis.

"This is not what we expected to find," says Long.

So Africans are the only true Homo sapiens and everyone else is a mutt? I admit I am not an anthropologist or a geneticist so forgive my pseudo-scientific ramblings here, but this makes total sense to me. Europeans and Asians have been out of Africa for only a relatively short time (50,000 - 100,000 years) which to me isn't enough time to develop all the drastic physical differences between them. But if they hybridized with these other humans who had a lot longer to developed these different traits and then selected for them it makes more sense.

Update: The newly sequenced Neanderthal genome confirms the above. People of European and Asian descent have from 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.

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