Pbo on Neandertal sequencing

1 minute read

On Edge, Svante Pääbo has a long and interesting narrative about Neandertal genetics, FoxP2 mice, his own biography, and everything else. Nothing new to be had, but much interesting background about old stuff.

How can I resist quoting this passage?

Probably the most likely thing was that this was introduced at 454 at the same time they were sequencing Jim Watson I wouldn't be totally surprised if we tried to investigate this and there was some slight mixture of Jim Watson with the Neanderthal sequence there.

Poor Watson – his DNA has been everywhere!

And why paleoanthropologists have such big arguments:

As an outsider to paleontologists, I'm often rather surprised about how much scientists fight in paleontology. And I am thinking about why that is the case. Why do we have less vicious fights in molecular biology, for example? I suppose the reason is that paleontology is a rather data-poor science. There are probably more paleontologists than there are important fossils in the world. To make a name for yourself is to find a new interpretation for those fossils that are extant. This always goes against some earlier person's interpretation, who will not like it very much.

Yes, I’m sure it’s true. But you have to admit we have better taste in wine.