In recent years, scientists have turned to a new kind of research model: organoids. They are a miniature, simplified version of human organs that grows as a three-dimensional structure in a laboratory dish. Now researchers at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany are going to use neanderthal DNA to create brain organoids. They want to learn more about the differences between human and Neanderthal brains.
"Neanderthals are the closest relatives to everyday humans, so if we should define ourselves as a group or a species, it is really them that we should compare ourselves to," Professor Svante Pääbo, director of the genetics department at the aforementioned Max Planck Institute told the Guardian.
"We're seeing if we can find basic differences in how nerve cells function that may be a basis for why humans seem to be cognitively so special," said Pääbo.