New studies have come up with the finding that all modern humans have inherited Neanderthal DNA. This study, published in the journal Cell challenges the earlier assumption that Africans did not have a Neanderthal origin. The contemporary study by Princeton University claims that Neanderthals were the contiguous evolutionary relatives of modern humans.
Earlier research showed that roughly 1.5% of the DNA of people of European ancestry derived through interbreeding and that people of East Asian ancestry had about 20% more Neanderthal DNA than this, probably due to more interbreeding.
Origin and Discovery of Neanderthal DNA
A wave of early humans migrated out of Africa, scattering to every corner of the world 60,000 years back. They came across a landscape of hominines vastly different from those they left behind. Neanderthals wandered across Europe and the Middle East. Also, they mated with their sister group, the Denisovans that spread through Asia. This was established with the DNA traces of Asians.
Scientists have long hypothesized Neanderthals’ connection to modern humans. Neanderthal genes were first discovered in 2010, based on a study conducted on Neanderthal fossils. From the DNA recovered from the fossil, researchers presumed that modern human beings share a lineage with the Neanderthals after they left Africa 60,000 years ago. Similarly, a comparison study of Neanderthal DNA with five living humans discovered that Europeans and Asians carried the traces of interbreeding. As per the estimation, roughly two percent of Asians carry Neanderthal DNA along with Denisovian DNA.
IBDMix method to Establish Neanderthal Linkage
This method gets its name from the hereditary principle identity by descent (IBD), in which a segment of DNA in two individuals is alike since those individuals shared a common ancestor some time ago. Specifically, IBDMix method determines the presence of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans.
The researchers studied DNA collected from 2504 present-day Africans, Europeans, and East Asians and matched up to DNA collected from a Neanderthal fossil found in Siberia and Southeastern Europe. Subsequently, they calculated the odds of a segment of a person’s DNA to have innate Neanderthal DNA. Researchers were successful in discovering Neanderthal ancestry in Africans, Asians, and Europeans.
Previous studies that compared living people’s DNA of Neanderthals to the modern African group couldn’t prove the Neanderthal ancestry. However, the contemporary study discloses that Neanderthals were the contiguous evolutionary relatives of humans. Previous research showed that roughly 1.5% of the DNA of people of European ancestry derived from the interbreeding and that people of East Asian ancestry had about 20% more Neanderthal DNA than this, probably due to more interbreeding.