Homo neanderthalensis

Modern human DNA not found in Neanderthal DNA

Most Modern Euro-Humans have Caveman DNA

According to my 23andMe results, I have less than 1% Neanderthal DNA. This isn’t really surprising as I share ~20% of my DNA with northern Europeans. Most endogenous Africans don’t have any Neanderthal DNA. Ever since scientists first successfully analyzed most of Neanderthal genome, we have known for some while that those of European descent contain some remnants of Neanderthal DNA. A recent study by Mateja Hajdinjak of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, reveals that there isn’t any immediately detectable evidence that there is gene backflow into modern humans.

Procedure

Hajdinjak’s team recovered samples from four Neanderthal specimens which lived during the time in which scientists believe the swapping of DNA should have occurred based on molecular evidence, between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago.  The results revealed no gene flow between these samples and modern humans.

What does this mean? 

Not finding human DNA in the Neanderthal genomes screened could mean a few things. One is that over time, those sequences unique to humans simply didn’t get passed down. Another is that the sample itself isn’t complete enough to make a strong determination but this is highly suspect. Another is that it could be that some populations simply don’t obtain the modern human components. It is possible that perhaps only a small number of Neanderthals bred with humans and that members of that surviving lineage made its way into the modern human genome.

In a way, Neanderthals survived through us.

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