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Mon, Apr 28

Neanderthals Are People, Too

I NEVER met my paternal grandfather. He died of the Spanish flu in 1919 at the age of 30, before his children and grandchildren ever got to know him. He was a brilliant mathematician and, as a scientist myself, I feel curious about what he was like. I take consolation from the fact that he lives on in me; after all, a quarter of my genes come from him. He has been on my mind these past few years, as my research group and I have worked to sequence the genome of a Neanderthal, the closest evolutionary relative of all present-day humans. We have also sequenced a genome from a small bone excavated in a Russian cave close to the border with China; this genome came from a previously unknown Asian relative of the Neanderthals — a group that we call the Denisovans. Read more.