[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Neandertals were our closest relatives. And now we know a lot more about them. Because researchers have for the first time sequenced a complete Neandertal genome—that of their mitochondrial DNA. The study appears in the August 8th issue of the journal Cell.
The new info shows that a disproportionate number of Neandertal sequence differences change the amino acid sequences in proteins. One explanation would be that Neandertals had a smaller population size. Which would give natural selection fewer options to choose from. So, did Neandertals mix with our direct ancestors? The sequence finds no evidence for such mixing. But we’ll have to wait for a full nuclear genome sequence to be sure.