Durban – Svaante Paabo, a Swedish scientist, has won the 113th Nobel Prize for Physiology in Medicine for his research on human evolution.
Paabo, a member of the Max-Planck Institute for Science in Germany, said his first thought about winning the Nobel was that his colleagues were playing a prank on him.
The 67 year-old said it was fulfilling to win the award, as his research started out as a hobby 30 years ago.
“For a long time, this research was seen as a bit of curiosity, but now it has arrived as a serious research topic, with many different groups now working on it,” Paabo said during a media conference.
Paabo has been credited with transforming the study of human origins, particularly around the relationship between the neanderthals and homosapiens.
He studied the DNA sequences from archaeological and paleontological [fossils] remains to link humans [homosapiens] to our historic predecessors, the neanderthals.
According to Juleen Zierath from the Nobel Committee, neanderthals lived in the European region around over half a million years ago, until they mixed with the homosapiens, which originated in Africa.
The mix between homosapiens and neaderthals took place about 75 000 years ago in the middle-east.
“We now know that we, homosapiens, carry about 1% to 2% of the DNA from neanderthals, and we know that from his (Paabo’s) work,” Zierath said.
What makes Paabo’s win really specia, is that 47 years ago, his father, Karl Sune Detlof Bergström, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology.