Mating with Neandertals reintroduced ‘lost’ DNA into modern humans | Science News

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Mating with Neandertals reintroduced ‘lost’ DNA into modern humans

More than 46,000 genetic variations come from shared ancient ancestors

By
2:43pm, October 23, 2017
Neandertal skull and human skull

LOST AND FOUND  Ancient DNA was lost when some humans (example human skull in background) migrated out of Africa, but the missing genetic heritage was “found” again when modern humans interbred with Neandertals (foreground).

ORLANDO, Fla. — Interbreeding with Neandertals restored some genetic heirlooms that modern humans left behind in the ancient exodus from Africa, new research suggests.

Those heirlooms are versions of genes, or alleles, that were present in humans’ and Neandertals’ shared ancestors. Neandertals carried many of those old alleles, passing them along generation after generation, while developing their own versions of other genes. A small number of humans left Africa around 100,000 years ago and settled in Asia and Europe. These migrants “lost” the ancestral alleles.

But when the migrants or their descendants interbred with Neandertals, Eurasians reinherited the ancestral heirlooms along with Neandertal DNA, John “Tony” Capra reported October 20 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

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