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Humans carry fifth of Neanderthal's genetic code

Due to sexual encounters between Neanderthals and our direct ancestors we carry quite a fair chunk of Neanderthal's genome.

  Author: mat | Source: theguardian.com | 31st January 2014  

Tens of thousands of years ago, is when the last of the Neanderthals died, but a fair portion of their genetic code still lives within a modern man. To be a bit more precise, the whole human population is carrying about 20% of the Neanderthal's genome.

This also means, the scientists can study about 20% of Neanderthal's genetic code without the need to poke around super fragile, ancient and to some extend still quite rare fossils.

So how did the "primitive" Neanderthal get in our precious genome you ask? Well, it's kind of complicated. But in fact it's really not, actually it's pretty straight forward - I really like how Guardian explained it, so I'm going to quote them, "The Neanderthal traces in our genetic makeup are the lasting legacy of sexual encounters between our direct ancestors and the Neanderthals they met when they walked out of Africa and into Eurasia about 65,000 years ago."

Are these Neanderthal genes any good? They sure are as many of them are responsible or rather involved in creating of keratin, proteins in skin, hair and nails. David Reich at Harvard University also speculates that there is a possibility modern humans picked up Neanderthal's genes that came in very handy when living in colder environments, may it be for producing more and thicker hair, or even tougher skin.

Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London had another interesting thing to say,  "Anything related to maleness in the Neanderthal has been purged from our genomes. Neanderthal DNA has come down to us today, but that transmission was mainly through the female line, because the males would have been significantly less fertile, and possibly even sterile."


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