Out of the veil of death rode the one million! Neandertals and their genes



Two recent papers1,2 report extensive nuclear DNA sequence from a 38,000-year-old Neandertal fossil, comparing it to modern humans and estimating when it diverged from, and whether it contributed to, our gene pool. Based on 65,250 and over a million base-pairs of sequence across the genome, respectively, the groups arrived at slightly different interpretations. The data are an exciting and interesting new contribution, but are not surprising, and a sense of history and question helps put them in perspective. BioEssays 29: 105–110, 2007. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.