How Much Neanderthal DNA We Have? Well More Than You Expect

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A new study finds that modern humans have as much as 2.6% of Neanderthal DNA. Crazy! isn’t it?. The study did genetic analysis of 52000-year-old Neanderthal women. What they found is pretty surprising. They found that our Neanderthal cousins still influence our lives in many ways.

A reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton, right, and a modern human skeleton, left, on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. A newly sequenced Neanderthal genome reveals that modern humans got as much as 2.6% of their DNA from our extinct evolutionary cousins. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

The study showed that 2% of the DNA in people of non-African descent comes from Neanderthals. The highest Neanderthal DNA saturation was found in people of East Asian descent. As much as 2.3% and 2.6%. This new finding emerged after researchers did a detailed examination of a Neanderthal women’s skeletons.

How we inherit the DNA?

Neanderthals went extinct around 40000 years ago and we actually don’t know why or how that happened. They were almost like our ancestors. Therefore the skin tone the hair colour was a lot like our ancestors. Early humans migrated from Africa around 1,00,000 years ago. As a result, at some point in history, modern human ancestors and Neanderthals came across each other. Most probably our ancestors and Neanderthals interbred.That’s where we got our Neanderthal DNA. The team of researchers believe that the interspecies breeding actually helped our ancestors to adapt to the harsh European continent. Also, they increase our vulnerability to many diseases.

Some of the modern human traits directly derive from the Neanderthals. Like our risk of having a heart attack, developing an eating disorder and suffering from schizophrenia or even our smoking habits.  Even the different skin tones in modern human come from that Neanderthal DNA. It suggests that Neanderthals also had different skin tones and light or dark hair colours.

 


Also published on Medium.