Missing Y Chromosomes Found to Be the Missing Link Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans

First Posted: Apr 25, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

Humans have often been told that they carry the DNA of the Neanderthals; this suggests that at some point they have interbred. However, that is no longer the case today, as a new study suggests that today's humans have less or don't have the Neanderthal Y-chromosomes. Scientists would want to find out why. 

Experts have found that the Y chromosome could have been the major factor in setting the two lineages apart by creating conditions that might often lead to miscarriages if or when the two got together. Recent findings show that Neanderthals who lived in Europe and Asia may have already died out about 40,000 years ago.

According to, there is about 2 percent of all non-African genomes in modern humans that are associated to Neanderthals, which implies that interbreeding attempts worked out alright. But this study still suspect that male offspring had more challenges to deal with compared to female offspring because they are the first one to undergo the in-depth research.

In 2010, scientists first sequenced the Neanderthal genome. It revealed that Neanderthals once interbred with modern human ancestors. The last major part of the Neanderthal genome that experts have yet to analyze was the Y chromosome. In modern humans and Neanderthals, the Y chromosomes determine if the sex of the individual is male.

Now, researchers have completed the analysis of a Neanderthal Y chromosome. They concentrated on a Neanderthal male found in El Sidrón, Spain. All in all, it was found that the differences between the Neanderthal and modern human Y chromosomes suggest that these lineages spread almost 590,000 years ago which is consistent with the past research.

"We should pay attention to the potential role of immune incompatibilities in population isolation," study lead author Fernando Mendez, a population geneticist at Stanford University, told Live Science.

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