What happened to the Neanderthals? Check their DNA. | csmonitor.com

What happened to the Neanderthals? Check their DNA. | csmonitor.com

Humans’ closest cousins, the Neanderthals, vanished 30,000 years ago after sharing turf with humans for millenniums. But why they disappeared remains a mystery. Two research teams decided to try a new approach: Instead of studying tiny fragments of DNA from one of these cousins, they looked for ways to string fragments together to get a more complete source of potential genetic clues. Conventional wisdom held that this task was impossible for material this old. But using the 38,000-year-old remains of a 38-year-old male, found in a Croatian cave, each group now says it has rebuilt, or sequenced, long segments of Neanderthal DNA – the twisted, ladder-shaped molecule in the nucleus of cells that holds an organism’s genetic blueprint.

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