Svante Paabo and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, presented the first draft version of the Neanderthal genome in 2010 from data collected from three bones found in a cave in Croatia, have now used a toe bone excavated in 2010 in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia to generate a high-quality genome from a single Neanderthal individual, the institute said Tuesday.
The analysis of the genome shows that the individual is closely related to other Neanderthals in Europe and western Russia, and that Neanderthals and their relatives, Denisovans, were both present in this unique cave in the Altai Mountains on the border between Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
"The genome is of very high quality", institute researcher Kay Prufer said. "It matches the quality of the Denisovan genome, presented last year, and is as good as or even better than the multiple present-day human genomes available to date."
Even the small differences between the copies of genes this Neanderthal individual inherited from its mother and father could be determined, the researchers said.
"We will gain insights into many aspects of the history of both Neanderthals and Denisovans and refine our knowledge about the genetic changes that occurred in the genomes of modern humans after they parted ways with the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans," Paabo said.