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What can we learn from the genomes of our closest evolutionary relatives?
Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo’s mission to answer this question, and recounts his
ultimately successful efforts to genetically define what makes us different from our Neanderthal cousins. Beginning with
the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in
2010, Neanderthal Man describes the events, intrigues, failures, and triumphs of these scientifically rich years through
the lens of the pioneer and inventor of the field of ancient DNA.
We learn that Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to
unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Drawing on genetic and fossil clues, Pääbo
explores what is known about the origin of modern humans and their relationship to the Neanderthals and describes the
fierce debate surrounding the nature of the two species’ interactions. His findings have not only redrawn our family
tree, but recast the fundamentals of human historythe biological beginnings of fully modern Homo sapiens, the direct
ancestors of all people alive today.
A riveting story about a visionary researcher and the nature of scientific inquiry, Neanderthal Man offers rich insight
into the fundamental question of who we are.