This article summarizes an interview with John Anthony Capra, an evolutionary genomics professor from Vanderbilt University. He begins by explaining that roughly 1% to 5% of the modern European and Asian genome consists of Neanderthal DNA. It is believed that when the ancestors of modern humans left Africa, they ran into and mated with Neanderthals. The evidence supports this because present day Africans actually don’t have any Neanderthal DNA. In a study done through Vanderbilt University, Neanderthal DNA was shown to have an influence on skin conditions from sun exposure, tobacco addiction, and increased risk of blood clots depression as well. On the positive side, Neanderthal DNA could have helped our prehistoric European ancestors survive unfamiliar “hazards and pathogens”.
Learning about our ancestors is something that I find intriguing so this article really peaked my interest. The modern human is so complex so learning about our ancestors is one way to better understand our species. Studying genetics and analyzing Neanderthal DNA shows us just how “human-like” our ancestors were.