Neandertal genome sequence and Belgian Beer

I wonder if it is slowly time to change the name of this blog to Gene relations. The max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Svante Pääbo and Richard Green and colleagues did it. It’s only an initial version, but using material from four sites, they have decoded the Neanderthal genome, and surprise surprise, a little bit of Homo Neanderthalensis lives on in some of us, in Europeans, East Asians, and Melanesians. Having grown up not too far from the actual Neanderthal valley in Germany I like to think I have some in me too.

DNA clusters on Roche/454 Genome analyzer. ©Frank Vinken;

This is cool stuff!

«These scientists have given an immense gift to humanity.

I’ve been comparing it to the pictures of Earth that came back from Apollo 8. The Neandertal genome gives us a picture of ourselves, from the outside looking in. We can see, and now learn about, the essential genetic changes that make us human — the things that made our emergence as a global species possible.» J. Hawks (Hawks 2010)

Now, it’s Friday and I don’t want to write a lot, others will do and have done already, so here are a few links (it’s the usual suspects really). There should be something there for everyone:

  • Naturally, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: great for the human evolution geeks amongst you. Check out the Press Kit. Lots of photos and information in various languages. Really, go and have a peek.
  • Science, of course.
  • Science has even a cool little feature site on Homo Neanderthalensis and their genome. And I think it’s cool enough to make it on to my list of archy-links.
  • Go to the BBC if your genome knowledge is a bit shaky. There is, a. o. a little video explaining what a genome really is.
  • Spiegel online, with once again a great photo set.
  • And, of course, a few lines by John Hawks.

And, now I leave you with this:

Halve Maan - Straffe Hendrik, van AdrianK;

Because that is what my friend Bachus and I’ll be spending next week with. Now, back to my thesis. Have a good one!


Burbano, H. A., E. Hodges, et al. (2010). “Targeted Investigation of the Neandertal Genome by Array-Based Sequence Capture.” Science 328(5979): 723 – 725.

Green, R. and etal (2010). “A draft sequence of the Neandertal Genome.” Science 328(5979): 710-722.

Hawks, J. 2010. neandertals live! johnhawks weblog [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 07-05-2010].

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