Researchers have determined that somewhere between 1% and 4% of the human Eurasian genome is Neanderthal. It has always been believed that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthal were separate lines of descent from a common ancestor. So, how is it that we carry some of the same DNA?
“The most likely explanation, say the researchers, is that there was limited mating, or “gene flow”, between Neanderthals and the ancestors of present-day Eurasians.
This must have taken place just as people were leaving Africa, while they were still part of one pioneering population. This mixing could have taken place either in North Africa, the Levant or the Arabian Peninsula, say the researchers.”
What genes might they have passed on to us? The most telling differences between the two species are found in our physical appearance. The Neanderthals had stockier, more muscular physical frames. But there were likely behavioral differences too. Those traits that were carried on were likely those that proved useful to survival in our gene pool.
“So when we see that their anatomies are gone, this isn’t just chance. Those things that made the Neanderthals apparent to us as a population – those things didn’t work. They’re gone because they didn’t work in the context of our population.”
You can read the full article on the BBC News website.
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Kris Hocker, “The Neanderthal in You,” /genealogy the genealogy & family research site of Kris Hocker, modified 25 Dec 2010 (http://www.krishocker.com/the-neanderthal-in-you/ : accessed 8 Mar 2014).
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