13 Neanderthal DNA reveals ‘exciting’ picture of ancient community | anthropology

The first picture of a Neanderthal community has been pieced together by scientists who studied ancient DNA from bone and tooth fragments unearthed in caves in southern Siberia.

The researchers analyzed the DNA of 13 Neanderthal men, women and children, and found that they were related to each other, including a father and his teenage daughter, another man related to the father, and two second-degree relatives, possibly his aunt and his nephew. they found a network of connections.

All Neanderthals According to the researchers, Neanderthals are believed to have small population sizes, communities of only 10 to 30 individuals scattered over great distances.

Laurits Skov, first author of the study at the Max Planck Institute for Evolution anthropology He said that the fact that Neanderthals lived at the same time in Leipzig was “very exciting” and that they belonged to a single social society.

Neanderthal remains have been found in numerous caves in western Eurasia—areas occupied by heavy-browed humans from about 430,000 years ago until their extinction 40,000 years ago. It used to be impossible to say whether Neanderthals found in certain places belonged to communities.

“Neanderthal remains in general, and DNA-preserved remains in particular, are extremely rare,” said Benjamin Peter, lead author of the Leipzig study. “We often tend to get single individuals from sites thousands of kilometers and tens of thousands of years apart.”

In the latest work, researchers including this year’s winner Svante Pääbo Nobel Prize in Medicine examined the DNA of Neanderthal remains found in Chagyrskaya Cave and nearby Okladnikov Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia to conduct research on ancient genomes.

Neanderthals took shelter in the caves about 54,000 years ago, seeking shelter to eat the mountain goats, horses and bison they hunted as the animals migrated along the river valleys overlooked by the caves. In addition to Neanderthal and animal bones, thousands of stone tools were also found here.

writing In the journal Naturescientists describe how ancient DNA points to Neanderthals who lived at the same time, some from the same family.

Further analysis revealed more genetic diversity in Neanderthal mitochondria—tiny battery-like structures found only inside cells passed down through the maternal line—than in Y chromosomes passed down from father to son. According to the researchers, the most likely explanation is that female Neanderthals left their homes to live with their male partners. Whether or not force is involved is not a question that DNA can answer. “Personally, I don’t think there is good evidence that Neanderthals were very different from the early modern humans who lived at the same time,” Peter said.

“We learned that the community we studied was very small, perhaps 10 to 20 individuals, and that the wider Neanderthal populations in the Altai Mountains were quite sparse,” Peter said. “However, they’ve been able to survive in a harsh environment for hundreds of thousands of years, which I think deserves a lot of respect.”

Dr Lara Cassidy, associate professor of genetics at Trinity College Dublin, called the study “a milestone” as the “first genomic image of a Neanderthal community”.

“Understanding how their societies are organized is important for many reasons,” Cassidy said. “It humanizes these people and gives their lives a rich context. But at the same time, if we have more research like this, it may also reveal unique aspects of our own social organization. Homo sapiens ancestors. This is crucial to understanding why we are here today and why Neanderthals were not.

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