Ten years after the first draft versions of the human genome were announced, technical progress in both DNA sequencing and ancient DNA analyses has allowed a research team around Ed Green and Svante Paabo to complete this task from infinitely more difficult hominid samples: a few pieces of bone originating from our closest, albeit extinct, relatives, the Neanderthals. Pulling the Neanderthal sequences out of a sea of contaminating environmental DNA impregnating the bones and at the same time avoiding the problems of contamination with modern human DNA is in itself a remarkable accomplishment. However, the crucial question in the long run is, what can we learn from such genomic data about hominid evolution?
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|Published - Feb 2011