OCCUPATION: Paleogeneticist, director of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
NUMBER OF TIME COVERS: 0
PREVIOUS APPEARANCES ON THE TIME 100: 0
PRO: Pääbo's lab in Germany announced four years ago the discovery of a gene thought to be key to the development of language in humans. The Swedish geneticist has more recently embarked on a project to sequence the full Neanderthal genome. Small patches that he has already deciphered led him to conclude that the species did not interbreed with humans.
CON: While the research has shed much needed light on the much-debated human-Neanderthal relationship, it won't settle the controversy until a lot more sequencing has been completed. And Pääbo's work is very much a collaborative effort: a group in the U.S., run by the Department of Energy's Edward Rubin, has contributed equally to the project.
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