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Studies have indicated that Neanderthal and Human DNA differ by a small percentage: opinions differ about that percentage, as well as the percentage our DNA differs from chimpanzees:
"At roughly 3.2 billion base pairs, the Neanderthal genome is about the size of the modern human genome. According to preliminary sequences, 99.7% of the base pairs of the modern human and Neanderthal genomes are identical, compared to humans sharing around 98.8% of base pairs with the chimpanzee. (Other studies concerning the commonality between chimps and humans have modified the commonality of 98% to a commonality of only 94%).
Additionally, in 2010, the announcement of the discovery and analysis of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the Denisova hominin in Siberia revealed that this specimen differs from that of modern humans by 385 bases (nucleotides) in the mtDNA strand out of approximately 16,500, whereas the difference between modern humans and Neanderthals is around 202 bases. In contrast, the difference between chimpanzees and modern humans is approximately 1,462 mtDNA base pairs. Analysis of the specimen's nuclear DNA is under way and is expected to clarify whether the find is a distinct species. Even though the Denisova hominin's mtDNA lineage predates the divergence of modern humans and Neanderthals, coalescent theory does not preclude a more recent divergence date for her nuclear DNA." [^].
Of most interest, to me, is research that suggests the Neanderthals had the gene associated with human speech: "The speech-related gene FOXP2 with the same mutations as in modern humans was discovered in ancient DNA in the El Sidrón 1253 and 1351c specimens, suggesting Neanderthals might have shared some basic language capabilities with modern humans." (from the same Wikipedia article linked to above).
Given the unethical aspects of human genetic experimentation, I wonder if modern stem-cell research, cloning techniques, DNA replication techniques, etc. might make possible some experiment that would simulate selective breeding to increase Neanderthal traits over time ?
The 2010 National Geographic article that the Wikipedia quote above cites in footnote #4 [^] contains many links to other interesting articles on the Neanderthals.
This 2012 National Geographic report focuses on the work of Svante Paabo at the Max Planck institute: [^].
Recent work at Cambridge has questioned whether Neanderthals and humans did inter-breed: [^].
I just checked, and these two domain names:
Are both available.
This thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.
Abu Yazid Al-Bistami (Persian, Sufi, 804-872)
You know what amazes me? In 3.2G of 2 2-bit codes, (so 4 bits to represent the pair, even though some combinations are not valid), therefore, 1.6Gbytes of data, DNA is capable of constructing a thinking, living, independently acting "machine". And I've read that a significant portion of that is meaningless junk, though I've also read that that may not be true at all.
Anyways, we have computers with 10 times that storage and storage devices with a thousand times that capacity, and what's the best that we can create? Windows 8? Mac OS? WTF?
Of course, the difference is that that 1.6GB of data creates something. Like the brain - your brain contains 100 billion neurons and 10,000 times as many connections - ok, now we're getting somewhere, as we can see how we are nowhere near the ability to represent and parallel process at femtosecond speeds that many connections.