Svante Paabo gets Nobel Prize in human evolution

4 October, 2022 | Aakarsh Divyam

Nobel Prize Winner Top News

Swedish scientist Svante Paabo was awarded this year's Nobel Prize for his contributions and discoveries in medicine on Monday.

Swedish scientist Svante Paabohad accomplished the ostensibly impossible task of cracking the genetic code of one of our extinct relatives known as “Neanderthals”, said the Prize committee.

Additionally, Paabo and his team were successful in obtaining DNA from a little finger bone discovered in a cave in Siberia, which allowed them to identify a brand-new species of prehistoric humans they named Denisovans.

Paabo has led the creation of innovative methods that have made it possible to compare the genomes of contemporary humans with those of Neanderthals and Denisovans, two other hominid species.

Anna Wedell, Chair of the Nobel Committee said that Svante Paabo’s pioneering discoveries have provided vital new knowledge regarding our evolutionary history.

Although Neanderthal remains were initially found in the middle of the 19th century, it was not until scientists were able to decipher their DNA—often referred to as the “code of life”—that they were able to completely understand the relationships between species.

This includes the time when modern humans and Neanderthals separated as a species, which was judged to be roughly 800,000 years ago.

In a startling discovery, Dr Paabo and his team also discovered that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens had interbred, proving that they had offspring together while living side by side.

Because of this gene exchange between hominin species, modern humans’ immune systems respond differently to viruses like the coronavirus. 1-2 percent of people outside of Africa carry Neanderthal DNA, described Wedell as she called it a sensational discovery that Dr Svante had made.

Svante Paabo, 67, completed his award-winning research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Munich in Germany. Dr Paabo was the one who founded Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany in 1999.

Svante Paabo is the son of Sune Bergstrom who happens to be a Nobel Prize winner in medicine as well. Paabo’s father Sune Bergstrom won the Nobel Prize way back in 1982.

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