Modern humans of European descent have a lot in common with their Neanderthal ancestors when it comes to genes related to fat breakdown in the brain. A team led by investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai has found that people of European descent have three times the number of Neanderthal-like sequences in such genes compared to other modern human populations examined. The results, published today April 1 in Nature Communications, point to how studying ancestral sequences could help researchers better understand modern humans.
“This paper presents a sort of second-phase research using what we know about where genes have come from,” said John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the study. “For some that come from Neanderthals, we can use that information to learn something new about human genetics and human biology.”
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