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26 September 2006
Scientist looks to Wales for Neanderthal blood

Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at Oxford University, says the last of the real Neanderthal bloodline could have been carried by a pair of Mid Wales twins who died in the 1980s. It could make the brothers the missing link between ancient and modern man.
     In his new book Blood of the Isles, which traces the ancestry of the British, Prof Sykes says he first heard of the Tregaron Neanderthals while visiting the 13th Century Talbot Hotel in Mid Wales during a research trip. The twin bachelors lived behind the ruins of a Cistercian monastery at nearby Strata Florida, where they were apparently visited every year by school pupils eager to learn about human evolution.
     The boffin spent 10 years taking samples from 10,000 people around Britain and Ireland and he found people in parts of Mid Wales whose bloodlines stretch back 10,000 or even 12,000 years, to when man first began repopulating Britain after the last Ice Age. He said: "In Mid Wales, around Tregaron, I found the oldest ancestry. We were looking at modern descendants of the oldest ancestors in Britain. There are pockets of people in Mid Wales whose ancestors go right back 10,000 years. They would have been hunter-gatherers. The fact that Wales and Mid Wales is hilly and mountainous is one of the reasons it has been undisturbed and we can see some of the oldest DNA here."
     While some may accuse his claims as crackpot, Prof Sykes is a respected academic, whose book also reveals the Welsh have the oldest DNA in Britain and Ireland.

Source: icWales (24 september 2006)

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