Sriram Sankararaman e i suoi colleghi hanno misurato la lunghezza delle porzioni di DNA nel genoma degli europei simili a quelle dei Neanderthal.
La studio, pubblicato su PLoS Genetics, indica che Neanderthal e umani moderni si scambiavano geni fra 37.000 e 86.000 anni fa.
The Date of Interbreeding between Neandertals and Modern Humans
Sankararaman S, Patterson N, Li H, Pääbo S, Reich D (2012)
PLoS Genetics 8(10): e1002947. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002947
Received: December 15, 2011; Accepted: July 27, 2012; Published: October 4, 2012
Comparisons of DNA sequences between Neandertals and present-day humans have shown that Neandertals share more genetic variants with non-Africans than with Africans. This could be due to interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans when the two groups met subsequent to the emergence of modern humans outside Africa. However, it could also be due to population structure that antedates the origin of Neandertal ancestors in Africa. We measure the extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in the genomes of present-day Europeans and find that the last gene flow from Neandertals (or their relatives) into Europeans likely occurred 37,000–86,000 years before the present (BP), and most likely 47,000–65,000 years ago. This supports the recent interbreeding hypothesis and suggests that interbreeding may have occurred when modern humans carrying Upper Paleolithic technologies encountered Neandertals as they expanded out of Africa.