Neanderthals lost their Y chromosome to modern-day individuals

Interbreeding led to Neanderthals getting their male sex chromosome replaced by that of present day humans, researchers have found.

Considering the fact that the very first Neanderthal DNA was sequenced in 1997, researchers have used genetics to gain insights into this extinct group of humans – our closest evolutionary kinfolk.

So much, the greatest-preserved Neanderthal specimens have tended to be female, so it hadn’t been possible to research the Neanderthals’ Y chromosomes, which are only possessed by males. These chromosomes go from father to son, so they can be traced back again to expose helpful data about the male lineage and history of the species.

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Now, an worldwide crew of researchers has produced a procedure which is equipped to ‘fish out’ Y chromosome molecules from the DNA that contaminates historical bones and enamel.

The scientists were being able to piece jointly the Y chromosome sequences of three male Neanderthals who lived all-around 38,000 to 53,000 many years in the past – shut to the time when they turned extinct. The staff also reconstructed the Y chromosomes of two male Denisovans – another extinct team of individuals who were relations of the Neanderthals in Asia.

When the crew in contrast the historical Y chromosomes to people of modern human beings, they ended up surprised to discover that Neanderthal and present day human Y chromosomes are extra very similar to each other than they are to Denisovan Y chromosomes.

“We know … that Neanderthals and Denisovans were being closely connected and that individuals residing these days are their additional distant evolutionary cousins,” said direct creator Martin Petr at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “…we envisioned that their Y chromosomes would clearly show a similar picture.”

One of the researchers at perform in the cleanse laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology © MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology

So it seems that interbreeding concerning contemporary human adult men and Neanderthal ladies inevitably led the fashionable Y chromosomes to switch the Neanderthal types. This is proof that DNA flowed from contemporary individuals into Neanderthals, as very well as vice versa.

The researchers speculate that the Y chromosome replacement may perhaps have been owing to the reasonably smaller dimensions of Neanderthal populations, which could have prompted the Y chromosomes to accumulate hazardous mutations.

“Given the vital purpose of the Y chromosome in replica and fertility, the reduce evolutionary fitness of Neanderthal Y chromosomes may possibly have brought on pure selection to favour the Y chromosomes from early present day humans, eventually foremost to their replacement,” said Petr.

Reader Q&A: Could we clone a Neanderthal?

Asked by: Odysseus Ray Lopez, US

The Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010. In the meantime, new gene-modifying equipment have been designed and specialized boundaries to ‘de-extinction’ are currently being get over. So, technically, yes, we could try the cloning of a Neanderthal.

It would involve introducing Neanderthal DNA into a human stem cell, ahead of acquiring a human surrogate mom to have the Neanderthal-esque embryo. However, there’d very likely be mismatches concerning mother and embryo that could possibly make the endeavour unfeasible. And, provided that the Neanderthal is our closest relative, its cloning would possible be regulated as complete human or reproductive cloning, which in most countries is illegal.

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Melissa M. Taylor

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