Well Being

Language gene shared by Neanderthals and modern man

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FOXP2 is the only gene known to date to play a role in speech and language. Up until recently scientist believed that the gene was selected only in modern man around 200,000 years ago.  This would date the event as happening after modern man separated from the Neanderthals, which happened around 300,000 years ago.

However, DNA analysed from Neanderthal fossils collected in a cave in Northern Spain show that Neanderthals shared most parts of this gene.  So the gene must have arisen much earlier than previously thought.

Maybe our less complex ancestors were able to communicate more effectively than a load of grunts, as previously thought!

Elaine Warburton