Neanderthal DNA Influences the Looks and Behavior of Modern Humans

About 2 percent of the DNA of people of non-African descent comes from Neanderthals, a species that became extinct about 40,000 years ago.

"They have a population structure that appears to be really outbred compared to Neanderthals, and that may have something to do with why modern humans succeeded-we were able to maintain broader social networks", explained John Hawks, professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Just like modern human beings, Neanderthals also had light and dark hair and skin, the study found.

ResearchGate: What inspired this study?

The paper, also co-authored by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, describes Neanderthal DNA found in modern humans that has been linked to eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia.

Since Neanderthal alleles - alternative forms of a given gene - are fairly rare, the team needed to access data representing a large number of people.

He adds that there's an increasing number of biobanks and databases like the one in the United Kingdom that include genetic information along with traits, "I think mining those and learning more about the contribution of Neanderthals to human traits is certainly something that's still interesting".

"My take on this is that it's showing the ways in which Neanderthal genetics, the genes we inherited from Neanderthals, are part of normal human variation", he says.

"Advances in laboratory methods helped us to overcome some of these challenges, in combination with cheaper sequencing technology", lead researcher Kay Prüfer told Live Science regarding the new findings.

"East Asians carry somewhat more Neanderthal DNA (2.3-2.6 percent) than people in Western Eurasia (1.8-2.4 percent)", said the report.

This fantastic genome signifies "we have another reference point to attempt and triangulate how the Neanderthals themselves developed and what they looked like when they were interbreeding with us [the predecessors of present day Europeans]", says Capra.

The attributes they distinguished incorporated those that influence hair shading, skin shading, skin tanning and consuming, resting examples, inclination, and tobacco utilize.

The study authors wanted to understand the "influence Neanderthal DNA might be having on ordinary variation in people today", Kelso said in a journal news release. "We speculate that their identification in our analysis suggests that sun exposure may have shaped Neanderthal phenotypes and that gene flow into modern humans continues to contribute to variation in these traits today". However, greater amounts of Neanderthal DNA could also make cholesterol lower, according to researchers.

RG: How did you discover this? "When we saw that the information from the UK Biobank was getting to be plainly accessible we were truly energized", Kelso says. "This study is pointing out that, hey, there's one of these [genes] that has a small effect coming from Neanderthals". However, in those previous studies it wasn't possible to determine precisely what aspect of skin or hair biology was affected.

"Skin and hair color, circadian rhythms and mood are all influenced by light exposure", the researchers wrote.

Kelso: This of course varies for different traits.

Up to this point, the main superb Neanderthal DNA has originated from a collapse Denisova in Siberia, where DNA is very much saved on account of the solidifying temperatures year-round, Hawks clarifies.

RG: Is it possible for a person to tell by their appearance if they've been influenced by Neanderthal DNA? .

Dannemann and his colleague Janet Kelso made a decision to look at the impact of Neanderthal DNA on non-disease traits in modern humans.

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