No Neanderthal Ancestors for Modern Humans

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If ancient homo sapiens got it on with their Neanderthal cousins, there were no children to show for it. Researchers studying Neanderthal DNA have sequenced half of the Neanderthal genome, and shoot down the theory that European humans interbred with the now-extinct species. And the team says the genome has other things to teach us about Neanderthal life, including their sexual proclivities.

The research team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthology presented their findings last week at a human evolution conference. The researchers have compared the Neanderthal genome to that of modern humans of European and African descent. Because Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted in Europe, researchers have theorized that European genomes would have more similarities with the Neanderthal genome than would African genomes. However, European and African genomes have a similar number of differences from the Neanderthal genome, suggesting that modern humans in Europe outbred rather than assimilated the Neanderthals.

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