Scientists have made some startling discoverties about Neanderthals in light of fresh analysis of a 50,000 years old DNA. According to the DNA analysis, Neanderthals were highly inbred, probably due to their small population.
The small population led Neanderthals to breed among themselves, sometimes leading to inter-breeding between close family relatives. They lived for hundreds of thousands of years but suddenly went extinct nearly 30,000 years ago.
The latest discovery comes from a DNA sample gathered from the toe bone of a Neanderthal woman which was found at a cave in Siberia. Dr Montgomery Slatkin, a population geneticist at University of California, led the analysis. According to him, “We performed simulations of several inbreeding scenarios and discovered that the parents of this Neanderthal individual were either half siblings who had a mother in common, double first cousins, an uncle and a niece, an aunt and a nephew, a grandfather and a granddaughter, or a grandmother and a grandson.”
One of the key reasons why the species went extinct is that they failed to invent newer methods and ways of life. At the same time, their population lacked a social structure, something which their contemporary modern humans were far better at. While Neanderthals are long gone, a significant population of modern world shares the genome sequences with them. This is because our modern ancestors interbred with Neanderthals back in the days.
Scientists have also identified Denisovans, a group that was a lot like Neanderthals. In fact, the two were nearly similar but 300,000 years ago, they took two distinct evolutionary paths. Denisovans too crossbred with modern humans as well as Neanderthals. Eventually, though, both Neanderthals and Denisovans went extinct while modern humans were able to continue to exist.
The DNA findings, such as the one discussed above, are critical in helping scientists understand exactly why the two other species went extinct. There have been some theories and general surmises but DNA sequences of these species may hold the definitive answer.
Courtesy: Daily Mail