African populations have been revealed to share Neanderthal ancestry for the first time, in findings that add a new twist to the tale of ancient humans and our closest known relatives.
Previously it was believed that only non-African populations carried Neanderthal genes due to interbreeding that took place after a major human migration out of Africa and across the globe about 60,000 years ago. The latest findings suggest human and Neanderthal lineages are more closely intertwined than once thought and point to far earlier interbreeding events, about 200,000 years ago.
“Our results show this history was much more interesting and there were many waves of dispersal out of Africa, some of which led to admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals that we see in the genomes of all living individuals today,” said Joshua Akey, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University and senior author of the research.
The study suggests living Europeans and Asians carry about 1 percent Neanderthal DNA, compared with on average 0.3 percent for those of African ancestry. Akey and colleagues believe that this Neanderthal DNA arrived in Africa with ancient Europeans whose ancestors — over many generations — had left Africa, met and mated with Neanderthals and then returned to Africa and mixed with local populations.
“An important aspect of our study is that it highlights humans, and hominins, were moving in and out of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years and occasionally admixing,” said Akey. “These back-to-Africa migrations, largely from ancestors of contemporary Europeans, carried Neanderthal sequences with them, and through admixture, contributed to the Neanderthal ancestry we detect in African individuals today.”
The increasingly fine-grained details of our ancestors’ migration patterns and intimate encounters with other types of human are coming into focus thanks to the advent of sophisticated computational genetics techniques. These statistical methods allow scientists to line up the Neanderthal genome side by side with that of ancient modern humans and DNA from different living populations and figure out whether the different lineages have been steadily diverging or whether there are blips where large chunks of DNA were exchanged at certain time points.
The latest comparison highlights previously unnoticed ancient human genes in the Neanderthal genome, apparently acquired from interbreeding events dating to about 200,000 years ago. This suggests an early group of humans travelled from Africa to Europe or Asia, where they encountered Neanderthal populations and left a faint imprint on their genome that could still be detected more than 100,000 years later.
The paper also highlights the relative lack of genetics research in African populations, despite modern humans having first emerged on the continent and despite African populations today being more diverse genetically than the inhabitants of the rest of the world combined. “To more fully understand human genomic variation and human evolutionary history, it is imperative to comprehensively sample individuals from all regions of the world, and Africa remains one of the most understudied regions,” said Akey.
It is not known whether all African populations, some of whose roots stretch into the deep past, share this Neanderthal heritage. KhoeSan (bushmen) and Mbuti (central African pygmy) populations, for instance, appear to have split off from other groups more than 100,000 years ago. The findings are published in the journal Cell.
The Western Section of the Taipei Metro’s Circular Line (the Yellow Line) in New Taipei City has been in operation since Jan. 31. On Sept. 6, someone riding in a Metro train car saw the quite moving scene of an elderly workman sitting on a paint pail that he had with him because he was afraid of dirtying the seats. Some netizens were moved to tears by the story. The person posted a photo on the “Baofei Commune” Facebook group. He said that when he was on the Circular Line in New Taipei City, he had come across an elderly workman
VieShow Cinemas’ Taipei Sun, a digital IMAX movie theater located in Taipei’s Ximending area, closed its doors on Sept. 8 in preparation for the building to be torn down for an urban renewal project. The fate of the mosaic mural The Rising Sun, which is 18.5 meters long and 3 meters high and is located on the second floor, has since become a focus of controversy. The mosaic mural was created by Yen Shui-long (1903-1997), an important figure in Taiwanese art, whose work ranged from painting, crafts and pottery to advertising design, and who was a pioneer in Taiwan’s arts
Let’s go for a spin in my new set of wheels (2/5) 坐我的新車去兜風吧（二） A: How about we organize a road trip to test out my new set of wheels? B: Alright. Any thoughts on where to go? A: I’m thinking of driving along the east coast and staying in Taitung for a long weekend. What do you think? B: That’s a great idea — but does your vintage car have air conditioning? A: I’m afraid not, but at least the weather is starting to cool down now. How about this Saturday? B: Sure. Let’s do it! A: 我們來規劃一趟公路旅行，試試我的新車，你覺得如何？ B: 好啊。你有想到去哪裡嗎？ A: 我打算沿著東海岸開，然後週末連假待在台東。你覺得呢？ B: 那真是太棒了──不過，你的經典車有空調嗎？ A: 恐怕沒有哦，反正天氣開始變涼了。星期六出發怎麼樣？ B: 當然。就這麼做吧！ （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） English 英文: Chinese 中文:
Veteran singer Tarcy Su staged a show at the Taipei Music Center on Saturday last week, becoming the first to hold a large solo concert at the venue since it opened in Taipei’s Nangang District on Aug. 27. After releasing her first album for 13 years in March, Su finally held the first paid concert in her music career spanning three decades since 1990. To celebrate the grand opening of the new multipurpose center, singer-songwriter Kay Huang, the center’s chairwoman, also launched an inaugural concert featuring various artists on Sept. 5. The lineup included Golden Melody Award-winning singer LaLa Hsu, singer