Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Overview
 
The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is a research institute based in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Germany, founded in 1997. It is part of the Max Planck Society network.

The institute comprises five departments (Developmental and Comparative Psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, Evolutionary Genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, Human Evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

, Linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, and Primatology
Primatology
Primatology is the scientific study of primates. It is a diverse discipline and researchers can be found in academic departments of anatomy, anthropology, biology, medicine, psychology, veterinary sciences and zoology, as well as in animal sanctuaries, biomedical research facilities, museums and zoos...

) and several Junior Scientist Groups, and currently employs about three hundred and thirty people.

Well-known scientists currently based at the institute include Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo is a Swedish biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics. He was born in 1955 in Stockholm to Sune Bergström, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane in 1982, and his mother, Estonian Karin Pääbo.He earned his PhD from Uppsala...

 (genetics), Bernard Comrie
Bernard Comrie
Bernard Comrie is a British-born linguist. Comrie is a specialist in linguistic typology and linguistic universals, and on Caucasian languages....

 (linguistics), Michael Tomasello
Michael Tomasello
Michael Tomasello is an American developmentalpsychologist. He is a co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.-Life:...

 (psychology), Christophe Boesch
Christophe Boesch
Christophe Boesch is a primatologist who studies chimpanzees. He and his wife work together, and he has both written articles and directed documentaries about chimpanzees....

 (primatology), and Jean-Jacques Hublin
Jean-Jacques Hublin
Jean-Jacques Hublin is a French Paleoanthropologist. Currently, he is a Professor at the Max Planck Society, Leiden University and the University of Leipzig and the founder and director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany...

 (evolution).
In July 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and 454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences, is a biotechnology company based in Branford, Connecticut. It is a subsidiary of Roche, and specializes in high-throughput DNA sequencing.-History and Major Achievements:...

 announced that they would be sequencing
Sequencing
In genetics and biochemistry, sequencing means to determine the primary structure of an unbranched biopolymer...

 the Neanderthal genome
Neanderthal Genome Project
The Neanderthal genome project is a collaboration of scientists coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and 454 Life Sciences in the United States to sequence the Neanderthal genome....

 over the next two years.
Encyclopedia
The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is a research institute based in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Germany, founded in 1997. It is part of the Max Planck Society network.

The institute comprises five departments (Developmental and Comparative Psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, Evolutionary Genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, Human Evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

, Linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, and Primatology
Primatology
Primatology is the scientific study of primates. It is a diverse discipline and researchers can be found in academic departments of anatomy, anthropology, biology, medicine, psychology, veterinary sciences and zoology, as well as in animal sanctuaries, biomedical research facilities, museums and zoos...

) and several Junior Scientist Groups, and currently employs about three hundred and thirty people.

Well-known scientists currently based at the institute include Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo is a Swedish biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics. He was born in 1955 in Stockholm to Sune Bergström, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane in 1982, and his mother, Estonian Karin Pääbo.He earned his PhD from Uppsala...

 (genetics), Bernard Comrie
Bernard Comrie
Bernard Comrie is a British-born linguist. Comrie is a specialist in linguistic typology and linguistic universals, and on Caucasian languages....

 (linguistics), Michael Tomasello
Michael Tomasello
Michael Tomasello is an American developmentalpsychologist. He is a co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.-Life:...

 (psychology), Christophe Boesch
Christophe Boesch
Christophe Boesch is a primatologist who studies chimpanzees. He and his wife work together, and he has both written articles and directed documentaries about chimpanzees....

 (primatology), and Jean-Jacques Hublin
Jean-Jacques Hublin
Jean-Jacques Hublin is a French Paleoanthropologist. Currently, he is a Professor at the Max Planck Society, Leiden University and the University of Leipzig and the founder and director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany...

 (evolution).

Neanderthal genome

In July 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and 454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences, is a biotechnology company based in Branford, Connecticut. It is a subsidiary of Roche, and specializes in high-throughput DNA sequencing.-History and Major Achievements:...

 announced that they would be sequencing
Sequencing
In genetics and biochemistry, sequencing means to determine the primary structure of an unbranched biopolymer...

 the Neanderthal genome
Neanderthal Genome Project
The Neanderthal genome project is a collaboration of scientists coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and 454 Life Sciences in the United States to sequence the Neanderthal genome....

 over the next two years. At three billion base pair
Base pair
In molecular biology and genetics, the linking between two nitrogenous bases on opposite complementary DNA or certain types of RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds is called a base pair...

s, the Neanderthal genome is roughly the size of the human genome
Human genome
The human genome is the genome of Homo sapiens, which is stored on 23 chromosome pairs plus the small mitochondrial DNA. 22 of the 23 chromosomes are autosomal chromosome pairs, while the remaining pair is sex-determining...

 and likely shares many identical genes
Gênes
Gênes is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Italy, named after the city of Genoa. It was formed in 1805, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the Republic of Genoa. Its capital was Genoa, and it was divided in the arrondissements of Genoa, Bobbio, Novi Ligure, Tortona and...

. It is thought that a comparison of the Neanderthal genome and human genome will expand understanding of Neanderthals as well as the evolution of humans and human brains.

DNA researcher Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo
Svante Pääbo is a Swedish biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics. He was born in 1955 in Stockholm to Sune Bergström, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane in 1982, and his mother, Estonian Karin Pääbo.He earned his PhD from Uppsala...

 tested more than 70 Neanderthal specimens and found only one that had enough DNA to sample. Preliminary DNA sequencing from a 38,000-year-old bone fragment from a femur
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

 found in 1980 at Vindija Cave
Vindija Cave
Vindija is a cave near the city of Varaždin, Croatia. It contains one of the best preserved remains of the Neanderthals in the world, found in 1974. It is estimated that the Neanderthal man lived there about 30,000 years ago....

 in Croatia shows that Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

s and Homo sapiens share about 99.5% of their DNA. It is believed that the two species shared a common ancestor about 500,000 years ago. Nature has calculated the species diverged about 516,000 years ago, whereas fossil records show a time of about 400,000 years ago. From DNA records, scientists hope to confirm or deny the theory that there was interbreeding between the species.

World Atlas of Language Structures

In 2005, the World Atlas of Language Structures
World Atlas of Language Structures
The World Atlas of Language Structures is a database of structural properties of languages gathered from descriptive materials. It was first published by Oxford University Press as a book with CD-ROM in 2005, and was released as the second edition on the Internet in April 2008...

, a project of the institute's Department of Linguistics, was published. The Atlas consists of over 140 maps, each displaying a particular language feature – for example order of adjective and noun – for between 120 and 1370 languages of the world. In 2008 the Atlas was also published online and the underlying database made freely available.

Early childhood language acquisition

Researchers at the institute have developed a computer model analyzing early toddler conversations to predict the structure of later conversations. They showed that toddlers develop their own individual rules for speaking with slots into which they could put certain kinds of words. The rules inferred from toddler speech were better predictors of subsequent speech than traditional grammars.

External links

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