10/24/2014

Fossil Find Pushes Back Neanderthal-Human Mixing

7:24 minutes

Researchers say a leg bone discovered in a Siberian river bank belongs to a man who lived some 45,000 years ago. Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, says he and his team were able to retrieve a high-quality genome from the bone, comparable to what doctors could get from a modern human sample. The man appears to have been an early pioneer in Siberia, and his genome includes about two percent Neanderthal DNA—similar to Europeans and East Asians today—which pushes back the date of Neanderthal-human mixing to 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. The findings appear in the journal Nature.

Segment Guests

Svante Paabo

Svante Paabo is a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

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About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.