Per Enflo ■ AAPA Abstracts
Program of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
Kansas City, Missouri March 28 to March 31, 2001
Page 62 - AAPA Abstracts
A simple reason why Neanderthal ancestry can be consistent with current DNA information.
P. ENFLO, J. HAWKS, M.H. WOLPOFF.
Dept. of Math. and Computer Sci., Kent State Univ., Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Utah, Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Michigan.
There is strong fossil evidence, that Neanderthals are among the ancestors of modern Europeans. However, in genetic studies, it seems that all, or almost all, Neanderthal genes have disappeared in today’s population (a candidate for an exception being genes related to cystic fibrosis). One explanation for this apparent contradiction is that the Neanderthal population was small, so when mixed with a much larger population only a small proportion of the genes in the mixed population were Neanderthal genes. Together with the effect of genetic drift, there is a fairly high probability that, i.e., all Neanderthal mtDNA has disappeared in today’s population.
Here we will suggest a different explanation for the apparent disappearance of most Neanderthal genes: Reproductive instabilities between different regions, which lead to migrations of people. If, in a region, every mother has, on average, less than two surviving children, then population size may be kept up by migration into the region and genes neutral to selection will disappear at an exponential rate. Over time this will be much faster than disappearance by genetic drift, even if that effect is combined with the mixing of a large and a small population. Many cities provide examples of regions at a reproductive disadvantage. It is reasonable to assume that Europe - with several major climate changes taking place - has been at a reproductive disadvantage for parts of the last 40000 years. We propose that explains the disappearance of most Neanderthal genes in today’s population. But it is an ongoing process that effects genetic variation in later populations as well. Thus, we also propose the same process explains the fact that most of the current European gene pool is Neolithic in origin. We show that the natural phenomenon of reproductive instabilities between regions also provides alternative interpretations of other parameters in population genetics - like Tajima’s D.
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Program of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Kansas City, Missouri - March 28 to March 31, 2001, p 62
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