News Stories

Finally Decoded

...and some mysteries solved - Scientists have now obtained the entire Neanderthal genome, and 60% of it has been decoded, and there are some surprising findings. First, there is no evidence that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals interbred. Second, they were genetically as capable of speech as we are, and may well have had complex languages. And we now know that our feet are older than we (modern humans) are. Ancient footprints found in Africa show that the earliest humans walked like us and did so on anatomically modern feet 1.5 million years ago.The footprints were discovered in two 1.5 million-year-old sedimentary layers in northern Kenya. These rarest of impressions yielded information about soft tissue form and structure not normally accessible in fossilized bones. These footprints are the oldest evidence of an essentially modern human-like foot.

Foot bones are rarely preserved because they are small, encased in flesh, and easily consumed by carnivores. Consequently, our knowledge of foot anatomy and function in early humans is poor. Based on the size and the stride pattern of these footprints, the research team that found them determined that the individuals responsible would have been approximately 5'9" in height.

Scientists have also finally decoded Neanderthal DNA. They have discovered that the FOXP2 gene, which controls speech and language, is the same in Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, but different in chimpanzees. It is believed that Neanderthal's shorter necks may have limited their ability to form words. Among the most informative future studies will be one that detects the differences between human and Neanderthal genomes, which may tell us, for the first time, what makes us uniquely human. Just direct YOUR feet (no matter what kind of feet you have!) to the sunny side of the street in Nashville on June 26-28, where William Henry has found us a really AFFORDABLE (as well as lovely) place to stay!

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