The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Sweden’s Svante Paabo for cracking an extinct human species’ genetic code.
Paabo’s work is focused on understanding how the human species evolved and spread out around the world, according to the BBC. He recently uncovered the genetic code for one of our ancient relatives, the Neanderthals.
“The last 40 thousand years is quite unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around.”
Take a listen to our interview with 2022 medicine laureate Svante Pääbo who reflects on our relationship to extinct species of early hominins.
Listen here: pic.twitter.com/0OUdwZylQf
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 3, 2022
“The last 40,000 years is quite unique in human history in that we are the only form of humans around,” Paabo said in a podcast clip shared by the Nobel Prize. Paabo started developing methods to study DNA from the now-extinct Neanderthals as a postdoctoral student, a feat once considered almost impossible due to the way that DNA becomes chemically modified and degrades over time, according to the Nobel Prize website. (RELATED: ‘Hidden World’ Discovered Under Antarctic Ice)
Paabo is also known for sequencing the DNA found in a finger bone in the Denisova Cave in Siberia in 2008, which led to the discovery of another previously unknown hominid, the website reported. Later analysis revealed that the Denisovan people had relationships with Homo Sapiens (ie: our species of human), with some individuals in South East Asia carrying up to 6% Denisovan DNA, the site continued.