1. Wide exterior of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig
2. Close up of sign of Institute
PLEASE NOTE: THE FOLLOWING SHOTS ARE NOT OF THE ACTUAL PROCEDURE, BUT A DEMONSTRATION FOR FILMING PURPOSES
3. Mid of graduate student Tomislav Maricic drilling hole into bone (for extraction of DNA)
4. Close-up of hole being drilled into bone
5. Close-up of bone powder being dropped into tube
6. Mid of student mixing bone powder with extraction buffer in tube
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Svante Paabo, Scientist at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig:
"It involved the development of a lot of technology here in the team - maximising the yield of DNA you get out of the bone, maximising of how much of that actually gets into the sequencing machine, and then working on computer algorithms to match these short pieces of degraded DNA to the human genome and the chimpanzee genome."
8. Wide of student preparing DNA in a way it can be fed to the sequencing machine
9. Close-up of liquid being transferred to a test tube with the help of a pipette
10. Close-up of tubes in mini centrifuge
11. Student taking tube out of centrifuge
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Svante Paabo, scientist at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig:
"The Neanderthal is our closest relative, so we could compare ourselves so far just to the chimpanzee which is a quite distant relative. Now we can say what are the changes in our genome that are totally unique to fully modern humans. And that's an interesting list of changes to have because among them will hide some that have to do with things like developing culture, developing technology, colonising the whole planet."
13. Close-up of Genome Sequencer
14. Mid shot of computer screen of Genome Sequencer
15. Close-up of sequencing in progress on screen
16. Wide of student preparing Genome Analyzer
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Svante Paabo, scientist at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig:
" So, of course what we hope is that we will learn more about the genetic background of features typical of modern humans today. That may have to do with sociality, that may have to do with developing culture and technology and so on. And perhaps that will then help in understanding diseases that affect those features in humans, such as autists, schizophrenia, language impairment. That's a sort of long term goal of it, not immediate."
18. Wide of display cabinet at the Institute
19. Mid of display of a row of skulls of apes, Neanderthal and homo sapiens
Researchers in Germany have completed the first draft of the Neanderthal genome, three (b) billion genetic building blocks that will shed new light on the ancient hominid as well as the origins of its closest relation - modern humans.
The team teased enough DNA out of three 38-thousand-year-old bone fragments to isolate some three (b) billion DNA base pairs.
The Neanderthal genome contains roughly 3.2 (b) billion pairs, but many pairs isolated by lead scientist Svante Paabo are repeats, meaning his draft is about 63 percent complete.
Paabo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said the Neanderthal genome will be an important tool for researchers tracing hominid evolution, and for those probing the origins of the genetic traits that make humans so dominant.
"It will help show what the differences are between them and us that allowed us to develop technology, to colonise the planet," he said on Thursday before presenting his findings to attendees of an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago by video uplink from Leipzig.
The announcement was planned to coincide with the 200th anniversary of renowned scientist Charles Darwin's birth.
Gene expert Edward Rubin of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, is leading a separate project to sequence targeted segments of the Neanderthal genome.
His work has shown that the Neanderthal genome is as much as 99.5 percent the same as modern humans.
He said Paabo's complete draft will let him compare segments and genes from his own research to a separate Neanderthal.
Other researchers are already planning comparative studies with genes known to influence speech and brain aging in humans.
That work could rekindle a debate over whether early humans simply replaced Neanderthals, or whether the two may have interbred while their ranges overlapped in Europe more than 30-thousand years ago.
Paabo, who presented DNA evidence in 1997 that Neanderthals were cousins rather than direct ancestors of modern humans, said his research suggests that if there was mixing between Neanderthals and modern humans, it has left just minuscule traces in our genome.
But he believes this genome might allow researchers to investigate whether earlier human genes were passed on to the Neanderthal.
Other researchers said the likelihood of contamination and the vast similarities between the two species would make it exceedingly difficult to pinpoint any genetic connection.
For two-and-a-half years, Paabo ran minute samples of bone - the whole project has required just half a gram - through hulking half-million dollar machines that used light reactions to sequence it into biological data.
The process was tedious and fraught with challenges.
Much of the DNA in the bone had decayed over time, and it was difficult to distinguish what remained from bacteria that colonised the Neanderthal after death.
Human handling at the excavation site in Croatia and at the laboratory also contaminated the sample.
Paabo's team studied places in the bone where molecules most often broke down over the centuries and used that data to rule out DNA that didn't show similar degradation, meaning it probably belonged to bacteria.
They sterilised their lab and attached a synthetic DNA tag to keep track of strands they believed to be genuine.
Geneticists and DNA researchers said the project's success despite those challenges is its most significant achievement.
Paabo said he hoped to cover each Neanderthal base pair 12 to 15 times in the years ahead.
In the meantime, scientists can compare smaller sections of Neanderthal DNA to data from completed genome projects on humans and chimpanzees.
A three-way comparison will also allow researchers to investigate whether the Neanderthal inherited a certain trait from an ancestor closer to the chimpanzee or one closer to modern humans, Paabo said.
Recent work to map an extinct mammoth's genome using hair preserved in permafrost raised questions about whether it might be possible to clone the mammal using its DNA sequencing as a blueprint.
Paabo said because the Neanderthal DNA was scattered in imperfect fossils, cloning it was far-fetched.