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Neanderthal interbreeding: fact or fiction?

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It is now widely accepted that non-Africans carry a few percent of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes. Although diverse analyses come to the same conclusion they all share the common assumption that mutation rate is constant. Several studies show that this assumption is false. Reanalysis shows that key predictions of a model based on introgression are not met. At the same time, patterns predicted by a higher mutation rate in Africa fit well with the data. I argue that if interbreeding did occur it was very rare and little if any Neanderthal DNA persists today in you or me. I end by speculating why such a porous idea so quickly gained widespread acceptance.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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