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Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for discoveries that underpin our understanding of how modern day humans evolved from extinct ancestors.

The prize, arguably among the most prestigious in the scientific world, is awarded by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($900,357).

It is the first of this year’s batch of prizes. The Award committee officially gave Paabo the prize for “discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.”

His key achievements include sequencing an entire Neanderthal genome to reveal the link between extinct people and modern humans.

He also uncovered the existence of a previously unknown human species called the Denisovans, from a 40,000-year-old fragment of a finger bone discovered in Siberia.

“A scientist who helps us to better understand our own species – and is rightly recognized for it today,” German education and research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger tweeted on Monday.

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