Researchers detect traces of the Neanderthal relative in the genome
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have found traces of the Denisova prehistoric man in the human genome. This is a relative of the Neanderthal man, who probably lived about 40,000 years ago in the Central Asian Altai Mountains. The researchers now hope to gain new insights into understanding human evolution.
Prehistoric man lived in Asia until 40,000 years ago
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have discovered that there are still traces of the so-called "Denisova human" in the human genome. These are a population of the genus "Homo", which is closely related to the Neanderthals. While the Neanderthals were primarily located in Europe and West Asia, Denisova people probably went through East Asia and lived until around 40,000 years ago in the Central Asian Altai Mountains.
The Denisova prehistoric man has only been known for a few years; in 2008 Russian archaeologists found a finger bone and teeth in a cave in southern Siberia.
However, according to the team around Svante Pääbo, the Denisova person left far fewer traces in the genome of modern people than the Neanderthals. According to the scientists, the genome of people living outside Africa today comes to about two percent from the Neanderthals, while a significant descent from the Denisova people with a share between 1.9 and 3.4 percent could only be detected in people from Papua New Guinea in the science magazine.
Neanderthal genes have a positive effect on the immune system
A few years ago, scientists had shown that people living in Europe and Asia today carry one to four percent of the Neanderthal genome. Just recently, the Leipzig researchers, as well as colleagues from the French research institute CNRS and the Paris Pasteur Institute, had dealt with the question of what effects these traces have on our health and came to interesting results. Accordingly, the blends would bring health benefits to some of today's descendants by the Neanderthal genes having a positive effect on the immune system and increasing protection against infectious diseases. At the same time, the inherited parts of DNA could also favor the development of allergies. (No)