41 – Human interbreeding with Neandertals

Around 50,000 years ago

What was life like back when humans and Neandertals coexisted? How did the two species feel about one another? While the exact answers to these questions cannot be known, we know that they did interact and recognize the similarities in each other—enough to interbreed. People living today who are descended from Eurasian populations have on average 1.3% Neandertal DNA in their genomes. Interestingly, while we find Neandertal DNA in the nuclear genome on humans, we have yet to find evidence of Neandertal mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is passed directly from the mother to all her children, so this could indicate that all Neandertal-human interbreeding events were exclusively with human mothers and Neandertal fathers.

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    Pleistocene2.58 million to 11,700 years ago

Environmental and Climate Changes

  • Earth’s climate remains relatively stable with alternating glacial and interglacial periods
  • Glacial/interglacial cycles changed 100,000 to 41,000 years

Changing Species