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Neanderthal Genome May Hold Clues to Human Survival

Science & Tech  (tags: archaeology, paleontology, research, science, investigation, discovery, Neanderthal, genes, genome )

- 2000 days ago -
It's the time of year when people take stock of the past 12 months, and make resolutions for the New Year. That's kind of what Svante Paabo is doing -- but the Swedish archeological geneticist is looking over a time span of 30,000 years.

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Michael O (176)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 8:19 pm
He's almost finished mapping the DNA of neanderthal man, a distant cousin of modern humans. Paabo has found that many people today carry within their DNA about 3 to 5 per cent in common with neanderthals.

Paabo says it's important to learn more about our caveman cousins' DNA to reveal the differences between us and them, differences that have seen modern humans survive and thrive over the millennia, while neanderthals have become extinct.

"I really hope that over the next 10 years we will understand much more of those things that set us apart. Which changes in our genome made human culture and technology possible? And allowed us to expand and become 7, 8, 9 billion people and spread all over the world?," he asked at a recent genetic conference in Ottawa.

The room was packed with people from across North America who wanted to hear Paabo speak. He's recognized as the inspiration for Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.

Pierre Meulin, president of Genome Canada, describes Paabo this way. "He is a rock star," he says, with a laugh.

And he's not surprised Paabo's work captures the public's imagination.

"I think people want to understand where they come from. And now people are very interested in what their identity is, and the genetic makeup of an individual is the absolutely ultimate identity card for any individual. So people are very interested in that," Meulin added.

Those genetic differences, Meulin said, can help pinpoint various diseases, and perhaps lead to a cure. But Meulin believes that one day DNA mapping will have a much more common use.

"With the social networking we see these days, when we all have our gene profiles on our iphone we'll be self selecting who we would like to be with. 'Oh, are you like me? Because I have this or this gene profile, etc. etc.' It'll happen."


Heidi Aubrey (16)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 9:13 pm
Interesting, but weak. I was hoping to read more about Neanderthal's lifestyle, health and form rather than a discussion about gene mapping.

John B (185)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 6:25 am
Thanks Michael for the link to the very interesting CBC article by Susan Lunn. Read and noted.

Bob P (394)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 8:10 am
interesting thanks

Nelson Baker (0)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 3:53 pm
Did not contain much information

Sheri J (16)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 5:54 pm
How did the neanderthal manage to keep their teeth?

Tanya W (65)
Monday December 31, 2012, 3:19 am
Thanks Michael noted! May I be so bold as to say that human survival would benifit greatly from us not destroying the only planet that we have for future generations.

Rebecca Y (26)
Monday December 31, 2012, 10:27 am
The way I have always viewed the Neanderthals and those who came before us that allowed our existence is they discovered what foods we could eat and what foods would kill us...very important to our survival. They also discovered fire, not only for warmth but to cook food. They discovered animals hides could be used to keep them warm and caves could give them shelter. They learned that babies needed care to survive and that having sex created babies. They learned to follow the animals so they always had a food source, thus they traveled and found better places to live and other ways to shelter themselves. They began to domesticate animals such as dogs and horses...dogs or wolves became their friends and kept away other threatening animals. We owe our survival on these cousins of ours and we don't really have to do much research to know they did these things to survive and that the healthiest, strongest and smartest ones passed those strengths on to the next generation and mated with the strongest of other tribes and thus we have modern man who is fast becoming less smart than the Neanderthals because we are not taking care of each other and not using our wisdom to save our planet.

Roger G (154)
Tuesday January 1, 2013, 3:56 pm
noted, thanks !
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