Neanderthal Inheritance

Here’s an interesting piece on our genetic makeup from last week’s i newspaper:

“Many modern health problems, from depression to nicotine addiction could have their origins i the limited interbreeding that took place between our early ancestors and Neanderthals more than 40,000 year ago, scientists said. A study of 28,000 people’s DNA found that some of the genetic variation inherited as a result of cross-breeding with Neanderthals may have made some individuals susceptible to medical disorders, researchers told the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Previous research found that between 1 and 4% of DNA variation in modern-day Europeans is the result of Neanderthal interbreeding with early members of the Homo Sapiens species. The latest study, published in the journal Science has found that this inherited variation in DNA predisposes people to several medical conditions.

“We discovered associations between Neanderthal DNA and a wide range of traits, including immunological, dermatological, neurological, psychiatric and reproductive diseases,” said John Capra of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. In another study, the scientists found that a specific portion of the Neanderthal DNA present in modern humans appears to increase the risk of developing nicotine addiction.

Neanderthals were a species of early humans that lived in WesternEurope and Central Asia more than 200,000 years ago. They died out about 40,000 years ago.

Neanderthal Traits:

Genetic screening is the only way to find out for sure if any of your ancestors were Neanderthal. The average European has about 2% Neanderthal DNA… Indigenous people from Sub-Saharan Africa have none… as their ancestors did not take the migratory route out of Africa through Eurasia.

Some have claimed to have identified apparent telltale signs of Neanderthal heritage.”

They include: an elongated skull, fair skin, freckles and red hair, enough space in the mouth for people with wisdom teeth, originally used for chewing foliage, and larger eyes.

I find this article fascinating, but it suggests that people without Neanderthal traits should be less prone to these problems, which I doubt.

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