New analysis of a well-preserved DNA sample taken from a 52,000-year-old Neanderthal bone fragment found in a cave in northern Croatia has identified gene variants that are still present in modern humans. The variants include genes associated with plasma levels of LDL cholesterol and vitamin D, eating disorders, fat accumulation, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia, among others. The study, conducted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, marks the second time that a Neanderthal genome has been fully sequenced with a high level of detail.
Your relatives were Neanderthals:
- “This adds to mounting evidence that Neanderthal ancestry influences disease risk in present-day humans,” the researchers said.
- The analysis confirms that for modern humans of non-African ancestry, as much as 2.6 percent of the genome is made up of Neanderthal DNA.
- Scientists believe that Neanderthals may have mated with Homo sapiens as early as 130,000 years ago.