Neandertal and Denisovan Blood Groups Deciphered; Results Support Low Genetic Diversity, Possible Demographic Fragility, and Likely African Origins

Blood group analyses for three Neandertals and one Denisovan by a team from the Anthropologie Bio-Culturelle, Droit, Éthique et Santé research unit (CNRS / Aix-Marseille University / EFS) in France confirm hypotheses concerning their African origin, Eurasian dispersal, and interbreeding with early Homo sapiens. The researchers also found further evidence of low genetic diversity and possible demographic fragility. Their findings were published online on July 28, 2021 in PLOS ONE. The open-access article is titled “Blood Groups of Neandertals and Denisova Decrypted.” The extinct hominin lineages of the Neandertals and Denisovans were present throughout Eurasia from 300,000 to 40,000 years ago. Despite prior sequencing of about 15 Neandertal and Denisovan individuals, the study of the genes underlying blood groups had hitherto been neglected. Yet blood group systems were the first markers used by anthropologists to reconstruct the origins of hominin populations, their migrations, and their interbreeding.
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