The Ancient DNA of Neanderthals

Diahan Southard

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Learn about Neanderthal DNA in this video presentation from the head of the Neanderthal Genome Project. How does this ancient DNA relate to us today?

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 DNA tests at Family Tree DNA*, Living DNA, 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 tests—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.

Ancient DNA may have you thinking about your ethnicity and your deeper ancestral heritage. To explore how these ancestral places relate to you, check out our FREE ethnicity guide.

Get Our FREE Ethnicity Guide


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<a href="" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.


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