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Sex and the Single Neandertal

It was recently noted that life science researchers are starting to post their work on the pre-publication server arXiv. At his Anthropology Blog, Dienekes Pontikos highlights one such paper, from Harvard Medical School's David Reich and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Svante Pääbo, pinpointing the date of "interbreeding between Neadertals and modern humans." The researchers measured the linkage disequilibrium in the genomes of modern-day Europeans and estimated that "the last gene flow from Neandertals (or their relatives) into Europeans likely occurred 37,000-86,000 years before the present, and most likely 47,000-65,000 years ago."

Pontikos notes that it's good to see "big names in human genetics" posting on arXiv and says he hopes "the little fish will follow their lead." As to the paper itself, he adds, the date of admixture put forth by the researchers is consistent with patterns of Neandertal evolution suggested by remains that have been found and studied. However, he says, the researchers chose a 10 percent minor allele frequency cutoff for SNPs, though it is known that MAF "is correlated with time, with low-frequency polymorphisms generally being more recent than high-frequency ones." If low-MAF SNPs were taken into consideration, the admixture estimates might be different, Pontikos says.

HT: Razib Khan at Gene Expression

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