We’re more Neandertal than we thought | Science News

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We’re more Neandertal than we thought

Inherited genes from the extinct hominids linked to sunburns, being a night owl

5:30pm, October 10, 2017
toddler on a sunny beach

ANCIENT TRAITS  Some people may have inherited a tendency to sunburn from Neandertals, a new study finds.

Modern people of European and Asian ancestry carry slightly more Neandertal DNA than previously realized.

About 1.8 to 2.6 percent of DNA in non-Africans is an heirloom of ancient human-Neandertal interbreeding, researchers report online October 5 in Science. That corresponds to 10 to 20 percent more Neandertal ancestry than previous estimates — and it may carry consequences for human health and behavior, say paleogeneticist Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues. Analysis of DNA from an about 50,000-year-old Neandertal woman from Vindija Cave in Croatia allowed Kelso and colleagues to find the extra ancestry contribution. Among the gene variants modern humans inherited from Neandertals are ones associated with higher cholesterol, increased belly fat, rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia, researchers learned

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