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Human Ability To Adapt Is A Result Of Neanderthal Genes

First Posted: Nov 15, 2016 05:40 AM EST
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It is safe to say that modern humans owe much of their abilities today from their ancestors. One particular trait that humans use a lot today is the ability to adapt and scientists have found that the interbreeding with other forms of early humans like the Neanderthals and Denisovans helped ancient people survive when they went out of Africa.

In a new study by scientists from the University of Washington, it revealed that the hybridization or interbreeding of modern humans with other hominid sectors helped ancient people survive and thrive over the past thousands of years.

The study, which was published in the journal Current Biology, shows that certain traits in modern Homo sapiens, like the skin and immune system, are linked to the interbreeding with ancient people. In fact, the traits were identified from 126 various places in the human genome, and these are still present in modern humans.

"Our work shows that hybridization was not just some curious side note to human history, but had important consequences and contributed to our ancestors' ability to adapt to different environments as they dispersed throughout the world," Joshua Akey of University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle told Science Daily.

The researchers found that approximately 2 percent of people outside Africa inherited their ancestry from Neanderthals. Moreover, people with Melanesian race had about 2 to 4 percent of their genomes from Denisovans.

To land to the findings, the researchers developed genome-scale maps of Neanderthal and Denisovan sequences found in ancient humans worldwide about 1,500 years ago. They also analyzed genomes from Melanesia, now called Indonesia, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Guinea.

"Our work shows that hybridization was not just some curious side note to human history, but had important consequences and contributed to our ancestors' ability to adapt to different environments as they dispersed throughout the world," Akey added as reported by Nature World News.

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