Two groups of scientists have announced that they have just sequenced DNA from a Neanderthal fossil. This is a huge breakthrough as it shows that scientists are making progress in their ability to detect, extract, and work with ancient DNA. Technological improvements are a big part of this advance. This is also huge in that it allows us to now begin looking for genetic answers to some questions that researchers have wondered about - when did modern humans and Neanderthals split from a common ancestor? did they interbreed? do we have traces of Neanderthal DNA in us? If so, what does this DNA do? Note: the idea that Neatnderthals were our ancestor has long been abandoned - it is now understood that humans and Neanderthals coexisted for a short while.
I am sure this will raise the question of cloning and whether or not we should/could/would "make" a Neanderthal, but for now I think it is exciting that we are pushing the envelope of genetics.
Neanderthal DNA Comes to Life
Thursday, November 16, 2006