Researchers have drawn up the first definitive list of genetic changes that make modern humans different from our nearest ancient ancestors, who died out tens of thousands of years ago.
The list amounts to a series of biological instructions that shape the brains and bodies of living people and distinguish them from Neanderthals and other early humans that lived alongside them.
Scientists are now going through the list to work out which genetic tweaks might have been most important in driving modern humans to become the most dominant living organism on the planet today.
“We are quite confident that among these genetic changes lie the basis for the interesting differences between modern humans and Neanderthals,” said Janet Kelso, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
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