Ovchinnikov, Igor Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
Goodwin, William Department of Forensic and Investigative Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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- Theories of Neandertal and modern human evolution
- Neandertal mitochondrial DNA
- Neandertal mtDNA diversity
- Neandertal nuclear genes
- Neandertal genome
- Age of divergence of Neandertals and modern humans
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The deoxyribonucleic acid of Homo neanderthalensis. Neandertals (also spelled Neanderthals) are the closest evolutionary relatives of modern humans. Based on fossil and archeological records, Neandertals are large-brained people with a distinct body plan and skull morphology compared to modern humans, associated with Mousterian (Middle Paleolithic) stone tools. Neandertals had dominated in Europe and western and central Asia for 200,000 years (Fig. 1), until their population declined for unknown reasons. After retreating to isolated refuges in southern Europe, they finally died out approximately 28,000 years ago. To help decipher the history of Neandertals, genetic evidence in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has been invaluable to researchers. See also: Ancient DNA; Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); Extinction; Fossil; Molecular anthropology; Neandertals; Neanderthal extinction; Physical anthropology
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