Humans Inherit Nearly 5 Percent of their Genes from Neanderthals

Humans Inherit Nearly 5 Percent of their Genes from Neanderthals

Neanderthals went extinct nearly 30,000 years ago but many of their genes are still carried on my current human race. In a new study conducted on some fossils found in the Iberian Peninsula, south of Spain, in Gibraltar, researchers have found that we inherit some of our genes to Neanderthals. Many research teams have analyzed these fossils and have provided important information about Neanderthals. Home Sapiens and Neanderthals might have interbred in many regions in the past and that could have resulted in transfer of some genes to modern day humans. Many researchers also believe that Neanderthals went extinct as they couldn’t co-exist with Homo Sapiens.

The research team said that some of the modern day races inherit more (around 5 percent) while others inherit less (around one percent) from Neanderthals. As per earlier research projects, nearly half a billion years ago, Neanderthals and the ancient ancestors of modern day humans split. Some Neanderthal and Denisovan gene variants boost our immune systems and help protect against infections. This could be reason for some races having stronger immunity among modern day humans.

Other gene variants increase the risk of diseases and health issues, including depression, skin problems, allergies, blood clots and even diabetes. To survive under any threatening circumstance that would draw blood, the ability to have a good blood-clotting mechanism would increase the odds of any attack or injury. In times of famine, a variant that was parsimonious in burning energy or a calorie was preferred if there was little food or if you were facing starvation.

In a study published yesterday in the journal Cell, University of Washington genetics researcher Rajiv McCoy and his team members suggest that Neanderthal DNA has strong impact on modern day humans. However, it is important how DNA is used by the RNA in our cells. While DNA is permanent and can be checked even from fossils, RNA is unstable and it can’t be ascertained from fossils on which research teams work.

McCoy informed, “We found that Neanderthal genes in the brains and testes of the people tested were expressed more weakly than genes in other areas. The reason for this is likely unequal evolution: As humans continued to evolve away from Neanderthals, it's likely that those body parts have evolved faster than others. Thus, they diverged further from the Neanderthal genes, and are less likely to be expressed by cells there.”

Professor Svante Paabo, a Swedish biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics, said, “Neanderthals are not totally extinct.” Professor Paabo is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Researchers also believe that as Neanderthals got exposed on certain pathogens, their immune system fought back. And, current human race has benefitted from that strong immune system as we inherit some of those genes from Neanderthals.

Professor Rasmus Nielsen, an integrative biologist at UC Berkeley, said, “It changed our view of human history and who we are. It just became assimilated into the human species, they are part of us today.”