By Katie Hunt / CNN

Brains are not preserved in the fossil record, making it impossible to know how modern human brains differ from our long-extinct ancestors, the Neanderthals.From fossilized skulls we know that their brains were big — slightly bigger than ours, in fact — but they tell us little about their neurology and development.Scientists from the University of California San Diego have come up with an exciting and provocative way to begin to answer this question. They have created blobs of brain tissue genetically modified to carry a gene that belonged to Neanderthals and other archaic hominins but not Homo sapiens.

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