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20% of Neanderthal Genome Survives In Humans 202

vinces99 writes "A substantial fraction of the Neanderthal genome persists in modern human populations. A new analysis (abstract) of 665 people from Europe and East Asia shows that more than 20 percent of the Neanderthal genome survives in the DNA of this contemporary group, whose genetic information is part of the 1,000 Genomes Project." Another study published today (abstract) finds that Neanderthal genes are present in some parts of our genome that we've found to be important. Some of the genes influence fertility and skin pigment, and others actually increase our susceptibility to diseases like diabetes and lupus. The researchers are now taking these known genetic markers and seeing if they correlate with any other health conditions.
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20% of Neanderthal Genome Survives In Humans

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  • Yes but (Score:4, Funny)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:21PM (#46104521)
    You replicate those genes by 3d printing, and offer them for bitcoins, and that's how you end up on slashdot.
  • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:22PM (#46104533)
    I'm surprised it's not higher.
    • I'm surprised it's not higher.

      I agree based on my neighbor Kevin. He looks exactly like reconstructions of Neanderthals.

    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:34PM (#46104635)

      But who says Neanderthals were dumber though? They managed to survive the cold climate for much longer than we have (which takes considerable more resources and planning than surviving tropic temperatures), and my knowledge is rudimentary, but from what I seen in documentaries, them dying off/merging may simply have been a matter of a warming earth. They were more barrel chested and not able to withstand the warmer climates as well.

      • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:02PM (#46104939)

        " them dying off/merging may simply have been a matter of a warming earth. They were more barrel chested and not able to withstand the warmer climates as well."

        Or they were 80% more tasty.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          From God's Roadmap:

          Release version: Homo neanderthalensis
          Build name: Adam
          Release date: 4,569,770,000 years after cooling
          Deprecated: 4,569,971,000 years after cooling

          Release version: Homo sapiens
          Build name: Eve
          Release date: 4,569,800,000 years after cooling
          [Sigh] Still deciding. I mean, the codebase is starting to look a bit creaky in a few places, and they're starting to tinker with it themselves (they think it's open source - hah!). Inquisitive little so-and-so's can't leave well enoug

      • Remember their brains were the same size, if not a little bigger, than ours. And we know they also had the genes that give us the ability to communicate complex information verbally. So no, I do not think we can say for sure that they were dumber -- not unless we were able to say clone a pure neanderthal and then talk to them to see how smart or dumb they really were.

        • Since a low-land Gorilla named Coco taught American Sign Language scored 95 on a standardized human IQ test, I would expect most Neanderthals to score in the 95-105 range like any other normal Human.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        From one study of quite awhile back, one reason for Neanderthals dying out was that the heads of Cro-Magnon babies were shaped differently, meaning that Neanderthal mothers with Cro-Magnon fathers tended to die in childbirth, while the reverse wasn't true. There have also been some studies that suggested that their shoulders weren't as well adapted to throwing, so they needed to get close-in with spears, which was more dangerous.

        I can't recall any studies that found that they were stupider than Cro-Magnons

      • The article clearly indicates that the male offspring of Human-Neanderthal breedings might have had lower fertility or been sterile (because modern humans share very few sperm producing genes from Neanderthals). Hence it is far more likely that, Neanderthal males simply bred themselves out of existence by mating with human females, and the Neanderthalish male offispring of male Human to female Neanderthal matings never went anywhere. Thus the decreasing male Neanderthal ratio would force further matings of
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        "Resources and planning" is not the only way to survive the cold. While there is a disagreement with Allen's rule (surface area exposed decreases in colder climates), the generally accepted idea is that physically they were better adapted for cold.

        There may have been social behaviors that account for temperature dependent survival, which is attributable to being fucking cold rather than being smart.

        And the coup de grace. If they died off because of a warming earth, they were not smart enough to adapt to w

      • Well, at the end of the ice age, it was getting warmer. But the Neanderthals simply denied that it got warmer, and therefore claimed that expensive adapting would not be necessary. After all, as long as they could think they had hunted mammoths, so why should they now invest time to find other sources of food? All those warnings about global warming were clearly nonsense. And anyway, last winter was pretty cold, so doesn't that disprove global warming?

        When they could not deny any longer that it was getting

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        Their tool kit was far more primitive than later humans, and only advanced when new peoples brought skills acquired from elsewhere. They don't seem to have been capable of much, if any, innovation on their own. The most advanced Neanderthal cultures always occur where they had the most opportunities to interact with Cro Magnons. Isolated Neanderthal bands kept the identical cultural level for thousands of years.

        • by qubezz ( 520511 )

          We have homo sapiens that design firmware for avionics systems, and we have homo sapiens who throw spears at metal birds []. Same species, the only difference is culture.

          Do not be so fast to judge the capabilities of neanderthal DNA based on the trinkets they left behind. The accomplishments of humans is due to language and learning, specifically learning of invention from the brightest 0.001%; we are still the same species as we were thousands of years ago.

    • I'm surprised it's not higher.

      The Neanderthals were not The Flintstones.

    • Isn't that about what the market share is for network TV?

    • Actually I was wondering what the percentage was in Gym Teachers :)
  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:26PM (#46104569)

    I may be 20% neanderthal, but I'm statistically 0.5% Genghis Khan...

  • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:34PM (#46104633)

    These genes do not exist in humanity in general, only specific racial groups. They are completely absent from African populations. Similar to milk digestion. Being able to digest milk in adulthood is a feature found almost only in European race populations, because it is allowed by a genetic mutation that occured in these populations 10,000 years ago. Most other racial groups are lactose intolerant after early childhood. Milk digestion in adulthood is certainly a huge advantage and became much favored with cattle domestication in Europe.

    The insertion of neanderthal genes happened around 30,000 years ago immediately after early humans left africa, after that there were 30,000 years of divergent evolution and branching that gave us the geographically distinct racial groups.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This map distribution show African milk tolerant populations:

      • Several African peoples are traditionally big herders, and rely heavily on dairy for their diets. Same with many in India. IIRC the current theory is that the lactose tolerance mutation occurred (and thrived) independently in several different places.

    • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:24PM (#46105153) Journal

      Lactose intolerance is complex. The Tuareg of Saharan Africa have lower lactose intolerance rates than Finnish people, for instance. It mostly has to do with whether a group has spent a long time as nomadic herders or not, and adult persistence of lactase activity appears to be caused by several different mutations, that arose spontaneously. [] has a nice list of adult lactase activity in different ethnic groups.

    • I understood that the Masai drink cattle milk (and blood), how's their digestion?
  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:50PM (#46104807) Homepage

    Neanderthals are barely a separate species.

    They're homo neanderthalensis, while modern man is homo sapiens sapiens. The immediate predecessor to modern humans is homo sapiens idaltu, which is minutely different than us. While a simple majority of paleontologists classify Neanderthals as a separate species, there's a significant minority that advocate them as merely another subspecies (home sapiens neanderthalensis) being more correct.

    Given that the ENTIRE Neanderthal genome differs from ours by 0.15% or less (we're about 2% different than our closest modern primate relative), I'm very surprised that the Homo-specific genome part is only 20% in common between Neanderthal and Modern Human. Particularly since it's now commonly accepted that they interbred with modern humans.

    I think the 20% commonality (if it bears out) probably reinforces the "separate species" theory more than the "distinct subspecies" theory of the Homo genus family tree.


    • Yup, given that I've read elsewhere that we share about 90% of our genome with fricking cows - all that data for building animal cells, and vertebras, and hearts, and livers, and kidneys, and mammary glands, and hair, and eyes, and nerves, and skin, etc..., having only 20% of the Neanderthal genome in common with us is setting off my bullshit alarm big time.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think they're referring to the section of our DNA which is specific to the Homo genus.

        That is, DNA for the Homo genus is probably about 99.5% or more in common, across all species of Homo. You can tell where the Homo DNA starts by comparing it to other members of the subfamily Homininae, and looking for differences.

        So, in the Homo-specific portions of our DNA, TFA is claiming that 20% or so is common to modern humans and Neanderthals. That still seems low, given the interbreeding of Neanderthal and M

      • I'll take your Bull Shit Alarm

        and raise you a fan :)

      • Would appear you are correct []
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Neanderthals are barely a separate species.

      They're homo neanderthalensis, while modern man is homo sapiens sapiens. do realize don't you that you can't prove anything just by spouting taxonomy at people? The people who consider them a separate species consider them "Homo neanderthalensis", while those who don't consider them "Homo sapiens neanderthalensis". Its right there in only the second paragraph of their wikipedia page. []

      In a large part this is an argument over those two sets of names, so you can't resolve anything by just stating one like its some kind of immutable fact of the universe.

    • Giving credit where credit is due: []

  • I've always found the neanderthal theory of autism interesting. Like, I know there's little to no actual evidence, but I can totally see it happening!
    • I've always found the neanderthal theory of autism interesting.

      Never heard of it. Do you have more info?

      • Yes, but don't expect any lazors to be shooting out of any asses for science or anything. All evidence provided is anecdotal at best, but it's the kind of thing where we'll know just how crazy it is as soon as gene sequencing drops to about $100/person. []
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:05PM (#46104971)

    What I find interesting is the only group that doesn't have Neanderthal genes are Africans. It almost sounds like Caucasians got their light skin and ability to handle the cold from Neanderthals and are hybrids while Africans are the only pure humans. Ironic.

    • Re:Black and white (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tie_guy_matt ( 176397 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:33PM (#46105221)

      Evidence shows that homo erectus left Africa and then evolved into homo neanderthal. Later early modern humans followed the path of their ancestors and once again migrated out of Africa. It seems that when they met what had evolved from homo erectus -- well let's just say that when the cave is a rockin you shouldn't go a knockin. So it isn't surprising that modern Africans do not have many Neanderthal genes because it doesn't look like they ever migrated back into Africa.

      Of course one definition of two groups being in the same species is if they can mate and have fertile offspring. Since we know early modern humans and neanderthals mated and had fertile offspring you could make a good argument that us, early modern humans, homo neanderthal, and homo erectus were/are all the same species.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        We don't know how fertile their offspring were. There have been cases of Mules getting pregnant (only by male donkey) though very rare and there are other hybrids where depending on the sex of parents the young hybrids are more or less fertile. Also to consider is how vigorous the F2 (second generation) offspring is, sometimes breeding happens but all the offspring are very weak. In a human society during plentiful times those offspring may still survive to adulthood.
        There's also differences in what is foun

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:03PM (#46106787) Journal

    In fact, 20% survive in Arnold Schwarzenegger alone. Add the National Football League, WWE Wrestling, and the Texas State Board of Education, and you've probably got well above 90%.

  • We all descended from aliens [] anyway.

  • Considering that humans and chimps have over 95% identical genes, and the same is true for humans and gorillas and chims and gorillas I would assume neanderthals and modern humans have also about 95% - 99% common genes.

    Where does this stupid 20% come from?

  • This would seem contrary to []

Friction is a drag.