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Neandertal legacy written in Europeans’ fat metabolism

DNA from interbreeding may have helped people adjust to new environment

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1:38pm, April 1, 2014

Fat metabolism genes inherited from Neandertals may have helped Stone Age humans survive in Europe around the time when cave lions and saber-toothed cats ranged the continent.

Remnants of these genetic gifts pop up in the genomes of modern-day Europeans and appear to tweak fat levels in their brains, researchers report April 1 in Nature Communications.

The findings are the latest in a string of studies trying to suss out the role Neandertal ancestry might have played in human evolution (SN: 3/8/14, p. 12).

Each newly discovered Neandertal detail — about their hair, skin, pigmentation and now fat metabolism — reshapes scientists’ view of the ancient hominids, says paleoanthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin&ndash

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