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August 1 2014

We are all Neanderthal


Better genome sequencing technology is giving new insight into early humans. In December 2013, scientists unveiled the most complete sequence yet of the Neanderthal genome, using DNA from a woman’s 50,000-year-old toe bone recovered from a cave in southern Siberia. That same cave has yielded a small piece of a finger bone from a Denisovan, from which the Denisovan genome was sequenced. One of the most surprising revelations so far is just how much of their genetic legacy we carry with us, even today. About 20 per cent of the Neanderthal genome lives on in modern people, influencing our health, and risk for disease, in ways scientists are now starting to unravel.

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