Reconstruction of a NeanderthaI child from GibraltarTwo years ago, the project of sequencing the Neanderthal genome started. They (Max Planck Institute & 454 Life sequencing) promised to end by this year. Well, they kept their promise. Frankly, some mitochondrial DNA sequences (mtDNA) have been published but contamination was the major defect in those published sequences. They collected more than 60 bone specimens from museums (We’re talking about 38,000-year-old bone); they repeated the sequencing for 35 times in the same clean room of extraction to avoid contamination with human DNA.


From the total 13 protein-encoding genes of the sequenced mtDNA, they identified only one with amino acids difference than the human sapien version. It is cytochrome c oxidase subunit 2 (COX2 – part of the respiratory chain), but even this difference has no significant effect on the functional domain of COX2. They hope to answer this questions in a few months: Why Neanderthals died out & human didn’t?!

We already know that Neanderthals & humans share 99.5% of the sequence, but answering questions about having a common ancestor & extinction through absorption (bred with humans) needs lots & lots of researches, collecting & sequencing samples at different time intervals to come with hypotheses. The mtDNA is not enough as Trinkaus (an expert on Neanderthal biology and human evolution) said: β€œThe genome sequence data may tell us something about the selection of a couple of proteins, but it tells us nothing about language or social behavior.”

Image credits:
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal child from Gibraltar:
First complete Neanderthal genome sequenced:

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2 Responses to “Neanderthal mtDNA sequencing completed: Anthropology owes Molecular Biology one”
  1. Wow πŸ™‚ First time to hear of those neanderthals
    You know what would be a great idea..if something similar to this was done on egyptian monuments to determine which of the 80 million egyptians living nowadays are really descendants of the great Pharaohs πŸ™‚ It would be like one gigantic family tree. As they showed on that documentary from Alarabiya, mtDNA can give a clue to groups of people who come from the same ancestor.

    I sure hope to be a young pharaoh”ess”

  2. Unfortunately,Radwa you may not be purely descendinig from a pharaoh.This is due to the fact that we occasionally had many invaders in Egypt. We had Romans, turhisk, English, French…(What else?) people who lived in Egypt. Through marriage we must have recieved some of their genes.
    By the way, this was an obstacle during the Egyptian project of ancient DNA as they had to find people in Egypt who have some restrictions on marriage to someone belongs to another family.It was a very hard job but finally they did it.

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