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Proteins & Proteomics
Evolution & Phylogenetics
Microbial Diversity
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Genetics of Development
Cell Biology & Cancer
Human Evolution
New Fossils
What Does DNA Tell Us About Our Position Among the Apes?
Variation Within and Among Human Populations
Out of Africa?
Neaderthals in Our Gene Pool?
Human Genetic Variation and Disease
Malaria, Sickle Cell Anemia, and Balancing Selection
Resistance to HIV
The Genetics of Asthma, a Complex Disease
Our History, Our Future
Biology of Sex & Gender
Genetically Modified Organisms
Neanderthals in Our Gene Pool?

Figure 6a. Neanderthal painting
Have Neanderthals contributed to our gene pool? This question is related to, but is distinct from, the "out-of-Africa" debate. If Neanderthals had made a substantial contribution to the gene pool of contemporary humans, replacement models like out of Africa would be severely challenged. On the other hand, while the lack of Neanderthal contribution to the contemporary human gene pool would be consistent with the out of Africa model, that particular result alone would not disprove the multiregional hypothesis. It is also possible that there was substantial exchange of genes across many different human populations but that the Neanderthal population was not involved.

How can we tell whether Neanderthals contributed to the contemporary gene pool? You can't get DNA from fossil humans. Or
Figure 6b: Neanderthal and Humanskeletons
can you? Data from fragments of DNA collected from different Neanderthal fossils have led to the conclusion that Neanderthals probably did not contribute to the contemporary gene pool. In 2000 Igor Ovchinnikov and his colleagues were able to obtain small fragments of mtDNA from a 29,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil found in the Caucasus Mountains. They compared the mitochondrial sequences from their fossil to mtDNA collected from a previously collected Neanderthal fossil from Germany. Ovchinnikov and his collegues concluded "Phylogenetic analysis places the two Neanderthals from the Caucasus and western Germany together in a clade that is distinct from modern humans, suggesting that their mtDNA types have not contributed to the modern human mtDNA pool."4
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