Are YOU a Neandertal?

In 2010 the draft genome for Neandertals was released by Svante Pääbo and colleagues. It was reported that European and Asian populations are between 1-4% Neandertal—but what percentage Neandertal are you?

Researcher extracts DNA from a Neandertal specimen

The company known as 23andMe recently released an analysis that claims to answer precisely this question. While personal genome sequencing has not yet hit the mainstream market, 23andMe looks at SNPs, or variations in single nucleotide pairs. Through a comparison between your SNPs and those found in the Neandertal genome draft, for a couple hundred dollars you will be given a percentage. The service has been given the name “Neanderthal Ancestry Estimator.”

Computational biologist Eric Durand developed the project, and has previously worked on both the Neandertal genome draft and Denisova genetics.

I encourage you to take a look at an outline of the methodology, online in a white paper. Are we really at the point where a private company can tell us a likely percentage of our Neandertal ancestry for $207? I’ll let you be the judge.

By Matthew Magnani

4 thoughts on “Are YOU a Neandertal?

  1. Svante Pääbo is quite a guy. His name keeps popping up in the most interesting places. I’ve blogged about him in the past.

  2. Does this mean that the Lopedo Child may have been an ancestral crossbreed? Pääbo did a study earlier where he tested the mRNA of the Lopedo Child and Neandertals against the mRNA of modern H. Sapiens and found little evidence of “hanky-panky”.

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