Ötzi – more Neandertal than the average bear

By Razib Khan | August 15, 2012 5:43 pm

Neandertal ancestry “Iced”:

Evaluating recent evolution, migration and Neandertal ancestry in the Tyrolean Iceman

Paleogenetic evidence from Neandertals, the Neolithic and other eras has the potential to transform our knowledge of human population dynamics. Previous work has established the level of contribution of Neandertals to living human populations. Here, I consider data from the Tyrolean Iceman. The genome of this Neolithic-era individual shows a substantially higher degree of Ne- andertal ancestry than living Europeans. This comparison suggests that early Upper Paleolithic Europeans may have mixed with Neandertals to a greater degree than other modern human populations. I also use this genome to evaluate the pattern of selection in post-Neolithic Europeans. In large part, the evidence of selection from living people’s genetic data is confirmed by this specimen, but in some cases selection may be disproved by the Iceman’s genotypes. Neolithic-living human comparisons provide information about migration and diffusion of genes into Europe. I compare these data to the situation within Neandertals, and the transition of Neandertals to Upper Paleolithic populations – three demographic transitions in Europe that generated strong genetic disequi- libria in successive populations.

MORE ABOUT: Neandertal, Ötzi

Comments (7)

  1. this makes sense in light of stuff i’ve seen presented btw.

  2. Matt

    While the otherwise Otzi-like Sardinians seem pretty average in their similarity to the Neanderthal…. interesting?

  3. Karl Zimmerman

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this pretty much require there to have been at least two different major Neandertal admixture events, one which affected all non-Africans, and a second which impacted at least some West Eurasians, but was later diluted to be nearly equal with East Eurasians?

  4. #3, i think so. it could actually be west eurasians #1, then later west eurasians #2 though.

  5. Solis

    It isn’t that surprising that Neolithic Europeans had more Neanderthal than modern Europeans; what’s surprising is the high Neanderthal admixture (5.5%) found in Ötzi and how it went down almost 2% for modern Europeans in just 5,000 years.

    Considering that Tuscans also have the most Neanderthal out of any group, and that the G haplogroup (since Ötzi was G2a4) presence in northern Italy isn’t that negligible from what I’ve seen, it seems that there has been a Neolithic continuum in northern Italy for 5,000 years. I wonder what’s the estimate of Neanderthal for Sardinians who have more G than other Italians.

    But, haplogroup G also has a low frequency throughout Europe, while Neolithic Europeans seem to have had this haplogroup at higher frequencies.

    Could there be a link between Neanderthal admixture and haplogroup G?

  6. Lank

    Any ideas on how this may be related to the differences in Neanderthal loci between Europeans and East Asians?

  7. I’ve been saying this for years to no effect, but talk to a midwife. There are still plenty in my neck of Ozark woods where the hospital is too far. She’ll note the robust Neandertal pelvis and show how it dont crack open to facilitate birthing like Homo Sapiens. So, the latter females can safely deliver the hybrids, but not the former. Which is why European women still have more delivery trouble, and why the percentage has dropped over time.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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