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International Interest in the Neanderthal Genome

Narrator: This is Science Today. Neanderthals have long captured the public's interest - whether they are the butt of jokes or more recently, the subject of television commercials and sitcoms. For scientists, Neanderthal DNA is of particular interest. Dr. Eddy Rubin, director of Genetics Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Joint Genome Institute, has sequenced genomic DNA from fossilized Neanderthal bones.

Rubin: So, what will it do for us? It will tell us a little bit about what makes us humans. It's quite clear that we share a common ancestor with Neanderthals - they are our first cousins. It will tell us a little bit about genomic insight into Neanderthals and I like the thought of building their biology from the sequence and finally, is public interest in science.

Narrator: Rubin says much of the genomics research is taking place in Germany, where the first Neanderthal remains were discovered in 1856.

Rubin: I think what's going to happen in the next year or so, much of the Neanderthal genome is going to be available on the web from this large German project and maybe a few things from the project we have going on.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.