Scientists have always been fascinated by the question of human origins: When and where did modern humans—Homo sapiens—first appear? What distinguishes us from other members of the genus Homo and enabled us to develop such unprecedented culture and society?
Indeed, hardly any question fascinates humanity as much as our own roots. For thousands of years, clerics, scholars and philosophers have been racking their brains about where we come from, who are we and where are we going. The French painter Paul Gauguin was so captivated by that line of inquiry that he even dedicated a painting so named in the 19th century. The work, which deals with both the meaning and the transience of life, remains his most famous.
We have come a lot closer to answering these big questions thanks in part to the work of the paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo. He achieved what others had long thought impossible: he decoded the genome of Neandertals, a relative of modern humans who went extinct around 30,000 years ago. The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm honored him
— source scientificamerican.com | Daniela Mocker | Oct 4, 2022