Posted on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 08:29:20 CET by LSDsmurf
Scientists managed to reconstruct a piece of DNA from a 38,000 year old fragment of fossilized Neanderthal bone with a new kind of DNA analyzer.
Such a feat, unanticipated even a few years ago, could tell a lot about what Neanderthals were like, from their hair and skin color to their relative facility with language. It could also clear up what sort of relationship existed between them and the first modern humans -- including whether the two tribes continued to interbreed after they diverged onto separate evolutionary trajectories.
Perhaps most tantalizing, the newfound capacity to reconstruct prehistoric DNA should allow scientists to home in on the less than one-half of one percent of the human genome that is expected to be different from that of Neanderthals, who went extinct 30,000 years ago.