Genetic insights into the social organization of Neanderthals

Laurits Skov*, Stéphane Peyrégne, Divyaratan Popli, Leonardo N.M. Iasi, Thibaut Devièse, Viviane Slon, Elena I. Zavala, Mateja Hajdinjak, Arev P. Sümer, Steffi Grote, Alba Bossoms Mesa, David López Herráez, Birgit Nickel, Sarah Nagel, Julia Richter, Elena Essel, Marie Gansauge, Anna Schmidt, Petra Korlević, Daniel ComeskeyAnatoly P. Derevianko, Aliona Kharevich, Sergey V. Markin, Sahra Talamo, Katerina Douka, Maciej T. Krajcarz, Richard G. Roberts, Thomas Higham, Bence Viola, Andrey I. Krivoshapkin, Kseniya A. Kolobova, Janet Kelso, Matthias Meyer, Svante Pääbo, Benjamin M. Peter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Genomic analyses of Neanderthals have previously provided insights into their population history and relationship to modern humans1–8, but the social organization of Neanderthal communities remains poorly understood. Here we present genetic data for 13 Neanderthals from two Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia: 11 from Chagyrskaya Cave9,10 and 2 from Okladnikov Cave11—making this one of the largest genetic studies of a Neanderthal population to date. We used hybridization capture to obtain genome-wide nuclear data, as well as mitochondrial and Y-chromosome sequences. Some Chagyrskaya individuals were closely related, including a father–daughter pair and a pair of second-degree relatives, indicating that at least some of the individuals lived at the same time. Up to one-third of these individuals’ genomes had long segments of homozygosity, suggesting that the Chagyrskaya Neanderthals were part of a small community. In addition, the Y-chromosome diversity is an order of magnitude lower than the mitochondrial diversity, a pattern that we found is best explained by female migration between communities. Thus, the genetic data presented here provide a detailed documentation of the social organization of an isolated Neanderthal community at the easternmost extent of their known range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-525
Number of pages7
Issue number7932
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2022


FundersFunder number
European Research Council Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme803147, 715069
European Research Council Seventh Framework Programme
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
Seventh Framework Programme324139
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada435-2018-0943
European Research Council694707
Australian Research CouncilFL130100116
Narodowe Centrum Nauki2018/29/B/ST10/00906
Russian Science FoundationN 21-18-00376


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