The Ancient DNA of Neanderthals

Celebrate DNA Day by learning more about ancient DNA in this video presentation from the head of the Neanderthal Genome Project. Oh—and shop the DNA Day sales, of course!

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This post celebrates the upcoming National DNA Day in the United States, which honors the completion of the Human Genome Project 16 years ago and the 1953 discovery of DNA’s double helix shape. How can you celebrate? Go shopping, of course! Click to explore related sales at Family Tree DNA ($49 Family Finder test, up to $200 off YDNA and $50 off mtDNA!), Living DNA ($59 for their 3-in-one test with specific British Isles ethnicity regions), Ancestry DNA, MyHeritage DNA, and 23andMe.

Another way to celebrate National DNA Day is to learn more about DNA and what it can tell you about your origins.

Ancient DNA and the Neanderthal Genome Project

Amazing advances continue to occur in genetic science. I came across this fantastic presentation from Svante Pääbo, Director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and head of its Neanderthal Genome Project. Watch it to learn what it meant to be a Neanderthal; where Neanderthals migrated and other early populations with whom they intermixed; ancient medical issues such as diabetes and infertility; and his thoughts about where we go from here with what’s been learned.

The presentation is about 45 minutes long, and Dr. Pääbo speaks clearly and conversationally. (I personally like his tongue-in-cheek data on those who have written in to self-identify as Neanderthals—or to identify their husbands as such.) His talk is followed by a Q&A that’s also interesting. I came away with a new appreciation both for the science AND for the deep and complex history that leads to today’s human race.


Still thinking about those DNA test sales—but now wondering whether they can tell you about your Neanderthal ancestry?

Read my article, “Ancient DNA is Intriguing,” to learn more about deep ancestry in genetic genealogy tests and what they can (or can’t) tell you about your Neanderthal ancestry.

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