Anthropology reveals ‘exciting’ snapshot of ancient communities as 13 Neanderthal DNA reveals

The first snapshot of the Neanderthal community was put together by scientists who examined ancient DNA from bone and tooth fragments unearthed in caves in southern Siberia.

Researchers analyzed the DNA of 13 Neanderthal men, women and children and discovered a web of interconnected relationships. Among them were the father and his teenage daughter, another male related to the father, and two second-degree relatives of hers, possibly an aunt and a nephew.

Researchers believe that all Neanderthals were inbred, resulting in a small Neanderthal population size, with communities scattered over vast distances, numbering only about 10 to 30 people.

Loritz Skoff, lead author of the study at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, said the fact that Neanderthals lived at the same time was “very exciting” and that they belonged to a single social community. He said that he was suggesting that he had been

Neanderthal fossils have been recovered from numerous caves in western Eurasia. This area was occupied by a thick-browed human from about 430,000 years ago until he became extinct 40,000 years ago. It has never been possible to determine whether a Neanderthal found at a particular site belongs to a community.

“Neanderthal fossils in general, and those with preserved DNA in particular, are very rare,” said Benjamin Peter, senior author of the study in Leipzig. “We tend to obtain single individuals, often thousands of kilometers and tens of thousands of years apart.”

In the latest study, researchers, including Svante Pääbo, who won this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking work on ancient genomes, have identified Neanderthal remains found in the Chagyrskaya and nearby Okladnikov caves in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. We have examined DNA from fossils.

Neanderthals took refuge in caves about 54,000 years ago, hunting ibex, horses and bison, seeking refuge as the animals migrated along the river valleys overlooked by the caves. Besides Neanderthal and animal bones, tens of thousands of stone tools have also been found.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists explain how ancient DNA shows that Neanderthals lived at the same time and were members of the same family.

Further analysis reveals that Neanderthal mitochondria—small battery-like structures found in cells that are inherited only maternally—are more genetically diverse than the Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son. Became. According to the researchers, the most likely explanation is that a female Neanderthal moved from her native community to live with a male partner. However, whether power was involved is not a question that DNA can answer. “Personally, I don’t think there is particularly good evidence that Neanderthals were significantly different from the early modern humans who lived at the same time,” Peter said.

“We found that the community we were studying was probably very small, maybe 10 to 20 people, and the wider Neanderthal population in the Altai Mountains was very sparse,” Peter said. rice field. Even so, I think they deserve respect for having endured in a harsh environment for hundreds of thousands of years.”

Dr. Lara Cassidy, Assistant Professor of Genetics at Trinity College Dublin, called the study a “groundbreaking event” as “the first genomic snapshot of the Neanderthal community.”

“Understanding how their society was organized is important for so many reasons,” Cassidy said. “It humanizes these people and gives a rich context to their lives. But further research like this may reveal unique aspects of our own social organization.” Hmm. homo sapiens ancestor. This is very important in understanding why we are here today and there are no Neanderthals. “

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