Composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides, a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome won the 2010 Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The Association's oldest prize, now supported by Affymetrix, the Newcomb Cleveland Prize annually recognizes the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of the journal Science between June and the following May.
A Science paper by Richard E. Green, David Reich, Svante Paabo, and colleagues will receive the AAAS prize for 2010. It was originally published online 7 May 2010.
The Neandertals are the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans. They first appeared in European fossil records about 400,000 years ago and they lived in Europe and Western Asia, traveling as far east as Southern Siberia, and as far south as the Middle East.
Neandertals first came into contact with modern humans about 80,000 years ago in the Middle East before later encounters in Europe and Asia. Progressively more distinctive Neandertal forms evolved over time before they disappeared about 30,000 years ago.
A 38,000 year-old bone fragment was used to obtain intact genomic material and put together the draft sequence presented in the paper. The Neandertal genome sequence was compared to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world. It indicates that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans from Eurasia than with present-day humans from sub-Saharan Africa. This finding suggests that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before Eurasian groups diverged from each other.
"The draft Neandertal genome sequence marks an incredible step forward in our perceptions of our closest hominid cousins," Science Editor-in-Chief Bruce Alberts said. "This remarkable paper is a fundamental intellectual contribution as well
|Contact: Katharine Zambon|
American Association for the Advancement of Science