(ORDO NEWS) — The largest genetic study of Neanderthals has given details of a family that lived in a Siberian cave 54,000 years ago.
Researchers have determined the structure of the Neanderthal family using DNA analysis
In a new study published in the journal Nature, scientists sequenced the genomes of 13 Neanderthals: 11 from the Chagyrskaya Cave in Altai Krai and two from the nearby Okladnikov Cave.
Scientists have identified among these people a father and his teenage daughter. They also found a possible cousin of the father, and a couple who could be cousins or grandparents.
The small clan lived together in Siberia about 54,000 years ago, according to the researchers. It is also believed that they died at about the same time, possibly from starvation.
Women migrated between communities
The authors of the study also found that the genetic diversity of mitochondrial DNA inherited from mothers is much higher than that of the Y chromosome passed from father to child.
This may suggest that Neanderthal women moved between communities, while men remained “keepers of the hearth.”
However, female migration did not help the community maintain genetic diversity: their inbreeding rate corresponded to a group size of 10 to 20 individuals.
This is much smaller than any ancient or modern human community, and more like the size of an endangered species on the brink of extinction.
This study is the first evidence of a Neanderthal family structure. Unfortunately, there is no such evidence for Homo sapiens, as our ancestors lived in hotter climates where DNA was destroyed much faster.
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