Mailbag: Did Neandertals have the derived MCPH1 allele?

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Re: “Introgression and microcephalin FAQ”

Hi Dr. Hawks, I just ran across your introgression and microcephalin FAQ on your blog, and I wanted to ask you one quick question. Now that we have a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, has anyone yet looked to confirm that one of the modern human microcephalin alleles was bestowed upon us by admixture with Neanderthals? Thanks in advance!

Thanks for writing!

Lari and colleagues published on this last year: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010648, Lari:2010 they didn’t find the derived (presumed introgressed) allele in Monti Lessini 1. We have no sign of it in the Vindija genomes, either. So far, no sign of it. The other encouraging gene region was an inversion including the MAPT gene; this also has not yet been found in a Neandertal.

So now we have tons of evidence of introgression, but none of the genes that we thought were strong cases before the ancient DNA. That doesn’t rule out that we’ll find these other cases in some ancient specimen, but in the meantime we’re working on what we have.