When Humans met Neandertals
The video slide show is based on the draft sequence of the Neandertal genome published in "Science". Watch the video here.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) invited me to give a talk based on the video.
I spoke to an audience of 125 African American high school students during the AAAS annual conference in Washington, D.C. They laughed and hooted when I asked "Who's your Daddy" while showing my drawing of a Neandertal. Fun!
Video for AAAS: Neandertals!
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.
My script and illustrations were based on the paper "A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome", published in the journal "Science" in May, 2010.
I had a chance to talk to Savante Paabo, one of the authors of the paper during a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Lab this summer. I asked him if he had any new data I could include in my video. He said yes, he has new data but it is being verified so he couldn't tell me. A new paper will be published soon, he said.
So 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.