Only 1-3% of our genome comes from Neanderthals, which is quite low if we consider about 10,000 years of coexistence with modern humans.

Prof. Laurent Excoffier, from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Bern, and Dr. Mathias Currat from the University of Geneva, established a computer model to understand why our Neanderthal ancestry is so low. They simulated DNA samples of modern French and Chinese people to assess the interbreeding success rate under different Paleolithic demographic scenarios. Their study reveals that the interbreeding success rate is less than 2%, due to strong barriers to gene flow between the two species. The results of their study “Strong reproductive isolation between humans and Neanderthals inferred from observed patterns of introgression" are published this week in the prestigious journal PNAS.

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