Monday, January 23, 2017

Neanderthal DNA in Humans

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.


  1. Great article. I myself find studies on ancient humans very interesting. I appreciate you posting about your article.

  2. What I found most interesting was when Mr. Capra was asked if early humans had mated with any other hominids. He replied "We think they did. Sometimes when we’re examining genomes, we can see the genetic afterimages of hominids who haven’t even been identified yet." We like to think that we are the top of the chain and got here on our own. Yet our genomes have had neanderthals and other unknown hominids contribute to them and we do not fully understand what impact that had on our development as a species.

  3. I remember hearing in biodiversity that the oldest trace of our ancestors did come from the continent of Africa! It's interesting to see how we evolved as a species