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Before the Donner Party

Neandertal bones found in a cave in Spain are what's left of an ancient murder-mystery, writes Carl Zimmer in The New York Times. Researchers led by Pompeu Fabra University's Carles Lalueza-Fox determined that there were 12 individuals in the group and, from knife marks on the bones, that they were the victims of cannibals. In addition to examining the bones, Lalueza-Fox and his colleagues turned to DNA analysis to determine the relatedness of the group. They report in PNAS that the three males of the group, as determined by both morphology and the presence of a Y chromosome, came from the same mitochondrial, and thus maternal, lineage while the females came from different maternal lineages. This suggests that Neandertals followed patrilocal mating behavior, in which small, related bands exchanged daughters, the researchers say. Zimmer notes both in the article and on his blog that that not all the experts he spoke with agreed with the researchers' conclusions. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Linda Vigilant says the research is "a nice start" but that she's not convinced that the males are closely related. More DNA, Vigilant adds, is needed.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.