When did Neanderthals and modern humans diverge?

  title={When did Neanderthals and modern humans diverge?},
  author={Peter Beerli and Scott V. Edwards},
  journal={Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues},
The availability of sequences from the mtDNA hypervariable region I and II of a specimen of the Neanderthal,1,2 Homo neanderthalensis, permits estimation of the time of divergence of Neanderthals and modern humans. Based on substitution rates derived from comparison of human and chimpanzee, Krings et al. provided an estimate of 550–690 KY1 and 317–741 KY2 before present for the split between the Neanderthal and contemporary human mtDNA. These estimates are dates for the split of the genes, and… 

Close correspondence between quantitative- and molecular-genetic divergence times for Neandertals and modern humans

A divergence time estimator for neutrally evolving morphological measurements is presented, suggesting that both datasets largely reflect neutral divergence, causing them to track population history or phylogeny rather than the action of diversifying natural selection.

Molecular Views of Human Origins

Comparative genomics from complete genome sequencing to chromosome painting provide a scenario for the origin of the human genome and the major steps over the last 90 million years leading to the formation of each human chromosome.

A critical review of the German Paleolithic hominin record.


Estimates of population divergence times and ancestral population sizes of three closely related species of Australian grass finches distributed across two barriers in northern Australia strongly support Pleistocene timing for both speciation events, despite the fact that many gene divergences across the Carpentarian region clearly predated the pleistocene.

The Talking Neanderthals: What Do Fossils, Genetics, and Archeology Say?

This issue has been debated back and forth for decades, without resolution, but in recent years new evidence has become available that suggests Neanderthals have language.

The Description of a New Marmoset Genus , Callibella ( Callitrichinae , Primates ) , Including Its Molecular Phylogenetic Status

The molecular data indicate an early divergence of Callibella humilis, prior to the divergence of Cebuella pygmaea from the ancestral Amazonian marmoset stock, and the high degree of divergence warrants its placement in a distinct genus, callibella.



DNA sequence of the mitochondrial hypervariable region II from the neandertal type specimen.

The results support the concept that the Neandertal mtDNA evolved separately from that of modern humans for a substantial amount of time and lends no support to the idea that they contributed mtDNA to contemporary modern humans.

Substitution rate variation among sites in mitochondrial hypervariable region I of humans and chimpanzees.

The maximum-likelihood method was used to estimate the gamma shape parameter alpha for variable substitution rates among sites for HVI from humans and chimpanzees to provide estimates for future studies, and an alpha of 0.4 appears suitable for both humans and chimpanzee.

Evolution of the primate lineage leading to modern humans: phylogenetic and demographic inferences from DNA sequences.

  • N. TakahataY. Satta
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1997
It is argued that the human ancestral lineage branched off from the NWM and OWM earlier than once thought and that significant demographic changes might have occurred at different evolutionary stages, particularly at the hominid stage.


It is shown that phylogeographic studies in vertebrates suggest that divergence of alleles in ancestral species can comprise from less than 10% to over 50% of the total divergence between sister species, suggesting that the problem of ancestral polymorphism in dating population divergence can be substantial.

On the estimation of ancestral population sizes of modern humans.

  • Z. Yang
  • Biology
    Genetical research
  • 1997
The theory developed by Takahata and colleagues for estimating the effective population size of ancestral species using homologous sequences from closely related extant species was extended to take account of variation of evolutionary rates among loci, finding that among-locus rate variation does not have a significant effect on estimation of the current population size.

Compilation of human mtDNA control region sequences

The organisation of a database for human mitochondrial control-region sequences is described, which comprises 4079 HVRI and 969 HVRII sequences and the available information about the individuals, from whom the sequences stem.

Substitution-rate variation among sites and the estimation of transition bias.

  • J. Wakeley
  • Biology
    Molecular biology and evolution
  • 1994
A simple comparison of the proportions of transitions and transversions in recently diverged sequences underestimates the level of transition bias by approximately 15%.

Maximum likelihood estimation of population divergence times and population phylogenies under the infinite sites model.

  • R. Nielsen
  • Mathematics
    Theoretical population biology
  • 1998
In this paper, a maximum likelihood estimator of population divergence time based on the infinite sites model is developed. It is demonstrated how this estimator may be applied to obtain maximum

Maximum likelihood phylogenetic estimation from DNA sequences with variable rates over sites: Approximate methods

Two approximate methods are proposed for maximum likelihood phylogenetic estimation, which allow variable rates of substitution across nucleotide sites, and one of them uses several categories of rates to approximate the gamma distribution, with equal probability for each category.