Friday, February 19, 2016

Beneficial Contributions From Neanderthals to Modern Humans

Recent studies show that cross breeding between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals may have allowed humans to adapt to certain areas more easily. While the modern lineage of humans were still located in Africa, the Neanderthals had already migrated to Europe and Asia. Less than 100,000 years ago, humans began to leave Africa and at this point interbred with Neanderthals. Researchers speculate that the group that had already moved to Eurasia had adapted to their surroundings genetically. One specific example is the inner working of the keratinocytes that allows skin to moderate moisture loss and protect against pathogens. Other Neanderthal genes found in humans are associated with battling infections and protecting against ultraviolet radiation.

Some genes were beneficial to Homo sapiens while others researchers believe were harmful. Geneticists were led to believe this because they found "holes" in the human genomes that do not connect back to their closest extinct relatives. According to the study, the gene that is involved in human speech does not have any connections to Neanderthals. The study also indicated that the two groups were too distantly related to successfully breed. David Reich found that hybrids had issues with fertility. This information was a surprise to researchers because most animals need to be separated by a larger number of generations before they become their own species.
Researchers are constantly discovering new information about human genomes and how they relate back to our ancestors. Continuing to do research on this topic can help to make discoveries in other areas such as the medical field. It is very important and necessary that we find out as much as possible about our genes. 

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