One of my favorite areas of discovery in science today is the new technology for sequencing DNA from old bones. Research in this field is called paleogenomics — the study of ancient genomes. Recent data reveals what scientists have long suspected — that our prehistoric ancestors exchanged genes with Neandertals. Exchanging genes is the scientists’ polite way of saying we hooked up and made whoopie with our now extinct cousins.
The video was commissioned by AAAS for their Member Central web site. You can also see it on my site here. I wrote the script, narrated, and illustrated the show explaining how we met the Neandertals as we moved out of Africa into the fertile crescent. The area was a crossroad for many migrations over thousands of years. Our ancestors made the trek about 50,000 years ago.
Script and illustrations were based on the paper “A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome”, published in the journal “Science” in May, 2010. The story of our encounters with archaic humans will continue as more bones are found and DNA is sequenced and papers are written — prehistoric stories that are finally being revealed.