Svante Pääbo received the Nobel Prize in medicine for his research on human evolution: Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist whose research on ancient DNA helped transform our view of human beginnings, received the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday. The genome of the long-extinct Neanderthals was sequenced in a ground-breaking study by evolutionary geneticist Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, proving that they interbred with primitive humans. A member of the Nobel committee named Anna Wedell described it as an “insurmountable assignment.”
The research of Svante Pääbo challenged the accepted theory of human origins by demonstrating that early human ancestors interbred. He oversaw a group that demonstrated how Neanderthals, who have been extinct for 30,000 years, nevertheless exist in our DNA. The genomes of people who are not African now makeup between 1 and 2 percent of modern humans who moved outside of Africa and interbred with Neanderthals. He identified a brand-new species of early hominidS known as the Denisovans from a finger bone recovered in a cave in the Russian Altai Mountains.
Harvard Medical School geneticist David Reich said the award was exciting an acknowledgement for a researcher. He considers a personal friend as well as a developing field of study that has altered how science perceives the human species. “It was startling and unexpected when we saw the initial indication that it had happened, and I believed it was probably an error in our study, so I spent a lot of time trying to make it go away,” Reich said. Ultimately, the finding was backed by a variety of sources of data.
Before Svante Pääbo’s discoveries, researchers could only comprehend the forebears of modern humans by examining old bones and artifacts. Paleogenomics, a new branch of science founded by his work, uses ancient DNA research to delve into the origins of humans. According to Reich, “the ancient DNA field has blossomed, from essentially a little sector that had done work of only modest consequence.” This story is still developing. It’ll be revised.
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