It’s a shade old news now, but I really enjoyed seeing the news that the Neanderthal genome had been (draft) sequenced and that it looks like there really was the divergence of Neanderthal and Homo Sapien genes about 400 000 years ago and potential mixing up to as recently as 30 000 to 80 000 years ago.
Observations of a Nerd covers things in layman’s terms very well – although the focus of a lot of media coverage was the “did we or didn’t we?” aspect of Neanderthal / Homo Sapien relationships (thus putting into the same category of the drunken one-night stand), the actual paper is more open to other interpretations, such as different genome variability between the groups of humans coming out of Africa and those who stayed behind. Also, now that the genome has been sequenced, there is lots of exciting stuff that my happen moving forward – understanding our genetic past holds some important keys for our genetic future.
Some of the interesting things that previous genome sequencing does indicate about Neanderthals is that some of them had red hair and that they had the same language gene as modern humans. There is a lot that can still be discovered from this genome sequencing, but it doesn’t strike me as odd that perhaps the Neanderthal were closer to being what we consider ‘human’ than has previously been believed.