Ancient genes persist
Stone Age interbreeding with Neandertals appears to have left its mark in humans’ genes. In “Neandertal hot spots highlighted in modern humans’ DNA” (SN: 3/8/14, p. 12), Bruce Bower reported that variants in genes relating to skin and hair traits, as well as some autoimmune disorders, come courtesy of these ancient hominids.
“I found your article fascinating, especially following my recent reading of Svante Pääbo’s book on the topic (Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes, reviewed in the same issue),” reader Sala Horowitz wrote in an e-mail. “I can surmise why a skin genome legacy from our cousins might have proved useful in human evolution, perhaps to more efficiently synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, but