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Research shows Neanderthals` traits found in human genes

Last Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 14:01

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: A new study suggests that DNA fossils hidden in modern human genome that help determine most people`s skin and hair, were picked up from Neanderthals through mating.

Lead scientist David Reich, an Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues conducted a research to analyse whether there were any implications of interbreeding on human health.
The researchers screened the genomes of 1,004 modern humans.

Since humans met Neanderthals as they migrated out of Africa, those populations that remained in Africa had little contact or genetic mixing with Neanderthals.

The researchers found that today, humans in east Asia have, on average, more of their genome originating from Neanderthals than Europeans, and modern-day Africans have little or none.
They found that some genes had variants of Neanderthal origin in more than sixty percent of Europeans or Asians, while other genes were never of Neanderthal heritage.

The scientists discovered that the genetic changes most often inherited from Neanderthals were disproportionately in genes related to keratin, a component of skin and hair.

The most striking area of the human genome that lacked Neanderthal genes was the X chromosome-one of the sex chromosomes. In humans, women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y chromosome.

The team`s observation that the X chromosome had very little Neanderthal ancestry suggested something the scientists hadn`t predicted -- a biological phenomenon called hybrid sterility.

The findings have been published in journal Nature.

(With Agency inputs)

First Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 14:01

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