Svante Pääbo’s mixed ancestry discovery makes PLOS’s “Top 6 Human Evolution Discoveries of 2018” list

Svante Pääbo (photo: Christian Perrenoud)

The Public Library of Science (PLOS) has included in its post “Top 6 Human Evolution Discoveries of 2018” Svante Pääbo’s and Viviane Slon’s discovery of interbreeding between Neandertals and Denisovans. Denisovans are an ancient human species first discovered in 2008. The discovery was made from a fragment of a long bone identified as coming from a 13-year-old girl nicknamed “Denny” who lived about 90,000 years ago: She was the daughter of a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father.

Pääbo is director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany and recipient of the 2017 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award. He is one of the founders of paleogenetics and became best known for his pioneering research on the Neandertal genome. Pääbo is investigating the genetic differences and functional consequences that occurred at the split between the modern human and their archaic human ancestors about half a million years ago.

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