DNA analysis by researchers across Europe have yielded the best evidence yet Neanderthals made no significant genetic contributions to modern humans.
The findings may help settle an ongoing debate on whether Homo neanderthalensis interbred enough with Homo sapiens when they coexisted -- from about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago -- to contribute to the modern human gene pool, said the researchers.
The team, from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and Sweden, tested mitochondrial DNA from 24 Neanderthal and 40 early modern human remains. The mtDNA, as it is called, is transferred only from mother to child.
Despite the ages of the fossils, the researchers found four of the Neanderthals and five of the early humans contained enough mtDNA for comparison.
Neanderthals lived roughly 150,000 to 30,000 years ago in Europe, parts of Asia and the Middle East. Modern-day humans arose between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago.
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