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Researchers Study the Neanderthal Genome

Narrator: This is Science Today. Neanderthals are the closest hominid relatives of modern humans. Our scientific knowledge of this extinct species has historically been based on bony remains and artifacts discovered in ancient caves throughout Europe. Now, with modern technology used to sequence the human genome, researchers are able to study and analyze the Neanderthal genome.

Rubin: The question is, what are we learning from it?

Narrator: Dr. Eddy Rubin, director of the Joint Genome Institute and the Genetics Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is leading a team of researchers studying the Neanderthal genome.

Rubin: So, some of the insights is we're very interested in when Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens diverged and from the data that we have comparing the genomes, it appears about 700 thousand years ago, there was a common ancestor and that ancestor gave away to these two lineages that eventually became Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens.

Narrator: Rubin says they're just getting started, but between their research and extensive studies in Germany, this data will someday be available on the web. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.