facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study suggests inbreeding shaped course of early human evolution

Nov. 28, 2013 at 5:03 PM   |   Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Humans lived for thousands of years in small, isolated populations and resulting inbreeding shaped the course of human evolution, a U.S. researcher says.

Research suggests the severe inbreeding may have created many health problems and the small populations were likely a barrier to the development of complex culture and technologies, NewScientist.com reported Thursday.

David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston -- who has sequenced the genome of Neanderthals and that of another extinct human, the Denisovans -- said both species were severely inbred due to small populations.

"Archaic populations had low genetic diversity, really extraordinarily low," he said. "It's among the lowest diversity of any organism in the animal kingdom."

The DNA of one Neanderthal, obtained from a toe bone, had almost no diversity in about one-eighth of the genome -- both copies of each gene were identical.

That suggests the individual's parents were half-siblings, Reich said.

That's common in small populations, said Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

"In the distant past, human populations were probably only in the thousands or at best tens of thousands, and lived locally, exchanging mates only with their nearest neighbors," Stringer said.

A previous study has suggested Earth's total human population 1.2 million years ago was just 18,500, spread over a wide area of the globe.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
45,000-year-old man reveals earliest human genome 45,000-year-old man reveals earliest human genome
2
North Dakota forks over $3 million for mummified dinosaur North Dakota forks over $3 million for mummified dinosaur
3
Weather satellite outage threatens to foul forecasts Weather satellite outage threatens to foul forecasts
4
Solar eclipse will partially obscure the sun Thursday Solar eclipse will partially obscure the sun Thursday
5
Dude! Company floats fly hoverboard Dude! Company floats fly hoverboard
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback