Tag Archives: evolution

The revival of Neanderthal: The Return of our ancestor

We, the homo sapiens, now are the most advanced creature compared to our ancestors after a long evolution history dated back around 15 million years ago. Humans belong to the order primates and class Mammalia with our other members like the well-known apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, macaques, orangutans, etc. which originated from 85 million years ago. You might have seen several illustrations of human evolution, as shown below.

The evolution of a man . Courtesy: Britannica Encyclopedia

If you are familiar with the biology subject, you may know the reason. Charles Darwin, the father of evolution in his book, The Origin of Species, mentions about the series of natural selection, the struggle to exist in the world, survive by making proper tools, variation, and changes in the body like shape, color, etc. As a result of mutation and many more factors like genetic recombination, We know the stages of human evolution right from Dryopithecus, Ramapithecus, Australopithecus, Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens Neanderthals and finally Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The closest ancestors were Neanderthals. There were others in the timeline like Homo Habilus and many more, but now researches have found a way to revive the brain of a Neanderthal. By this we can know more about, let’s see how.

The Father of Evolution: Charles Darwin

Neanderthals with a big brain and vast muscular body in size compared to Homo Sapiens. Additionally, a large head was its specialty along with powerful jaws, hunters with the tools used by them were advanced when compared to their ancestors. The researchers at Basel, Switzerland, the neuroscientists specifically grew up small replicas or copies of the brain from stem cells along with the DNA of Neanderthals. We, being a modern man, still may share about 1 to 4 percent similarity in the genes compared to them. This theory holds as the genomes of a European family matched with the reference of a 2010 model of Neanderthal genome by Svante Pääbo, a geneticist.

The following finding helped to generate three-dimensional objects of brain tissues in a petridish used in laboratories. Organoids of these miniature-sized brains are commonly used to test the effects of drugs. This information may help us more to know about the previous lifestyle, the diet of a Neanderthal. Our ancestors had a problem of communication, maybe due to the absence of language as we use today effectively. These brains were grown from pluripotent stem cells using five cell lines to produce brain organoids, leading to single-cell RNA sequencing data to learn more about their cell composition in the past.

The miniature brain cells grown from the stem cells.

We still share some common characteristics with our ancestors, like hair and skin color. Neanderthals and Denisovans genomes were found in caves, depicting they lived around 80 to 120 thousand years ago. This researches in the future may help to find the proper treatment for cancer. Just imagine, for a while, the stem cells are a gift from nature. It’s unique, usually seen during the development of a baby child, and it can generate all different cells right from a muscle cell to the most crucial brain cells. They help to recover the damages formed in the tissues also. The science of cell being so small may amaze you, and it does.

For more details, refer to the PDF: https://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/pdf/S2213-6711(20)30190-9.pdf