Nature 444, 330-336 (16 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05336; Received 14 July 2006; Accepted 11 October 2006

Analysis of one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA

Richard E. Green1, Johannes Krause1, Susan E. Ptak1, Adrian W. Briggs1, Michael T. Ronan2, Jan F. Simons2, Lei Du2, Michael Egholm2, Jonathan M. Rothberg2, Maja Paunovic3,4 & Svante Pääbo1

  1. Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
  2. 454 Life Sciences, 20 Commercial Street, Branford, Connecticut 06405, USA
  3. Institute of Quaternary Paleontology and Geology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, A. Kovacica 5/II, HR-10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
  4. Deceased.

Correspondence to: Richard E. Green1 Neanderthal fossil extract sequences were deposited at EBI with accession numbers CAAN01000001–CAAN01369630. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to R.E.G. (Email:


Neanderthals are the extinct hominid group most closely related to contemporary humans, so their genome offers a unique opportunity to identify genetic changes specific to anatomically fully modern humans. We have identified a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil that is exceptionally free of contamination from modern human DNA. Direct high-throughput sequencing of a DNA extract from this fossil has thus far yielded over one million base pairs of hominoid nuclear DNA sequences. Comparison with the human and chimpanzee genomes reveals that modern human and Neanderthal DNA sequences diverged on average about 500,000 years ago. Existing technology and fossil resources are now sufficient to initiate a Neanderthal genome-sequencing effort.


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