We Still Have Active Neanderthal Genes in Us


statue of a neanderthal

A new study reveals that people still carry Neanderthal genes in them even after 50,000 years from the extinction of this subspecies.

The Neanderthals inhabited the Earth more than 50,000 years ago, and they are considered a subspecies of the archaic human. However, even though there is a large period of time that separates today’s people from this Homo neanderthalensis, their genes is still controlling human system. They can influence some people by deciding how tall they should be, and how to shape their immune system.

A new study was able to gain insight into our genes and find out how much our biology changed over time. It turns out that people still have Neanderthal DNA. This species of archaic human that are not of African descent united their genes with Homo sapiens around 50,000 years ago. This is why the modern world throughout Europe and Asia still inherits 2% of such a genome which is enough to maintain power over us.

The study was conducted by Rajiv McCoy, a researcher at the University of Washington, and his team. Even though some of their findings identified Neanderthal genes in people, the spreading is not even. On the contrary, the evolution took its toll and faded this archaic remains especially in the parts that developed most rapidly such as the brain. Nonetheless, the reminiscent has still retained a little influence over the system.

The study analyzed data from 214 people in U.S. who have European ancestry. Scientists compared their DNA with Neanderthal samples with the genome sequenced in 2008. This is how they managed to identify exactly which gene fragments were modern and which one archaic in 52 distinct types of tissue. Among participants, there were several who still had the same number of both genes. Moreover, scientists managed to understand which one in the modern-Neanderthal pair of genes enforced influence on the other.

This led to the conclusion that some Neanderthal genes had power over their modern versions. Some of them might still provide their host’s protection against disorders like schizophrenia while others decide how tall people are going to get. This comes as a surprise to the scientific world that thought that after 50,000 years from their extinction, the Neanderthal genes laid completely inactive. The results of this study will draw awareness within the biology field on how a long gone ancestor still has the power to dictate human traits.

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Melissa Whitney

We asked our colleague, Melissa Whitney, why she chose Journalism for a profession. She gave us one of the best answers we’ve heard so far: she feels it’s her duty to let future nations know how humanity lived at some point in history. Her articles are, for that matter, incredibly accurate and well-informed, but they do not lack that personal touch that readers need to get to know the writer better.
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