One of the interesting things that some DNA tests show is whether or not a person has Neanderthal DNA. I have about 2% of Neanderthal ancestry in my DNA, I don’t know from which side or both. It turns out about six billion people have about that much, and what it means is that as early humans migrated out of Africa oh a gazilion years ago, the genes recorded interbreeding events that took place at the early stages of that migration. So….early humans interacted and mated with Neanderthals who lived in Europe and parts of Asia. And my ancestry is completely of European origin. Interestingly the first Neanderthal skeleton that was found was in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf, Germany (I am very German).
People of European, Asian and Australasian origin all have at least some Neanderthal DNA. It was thought African populations did not have the DNA but this was recently debunked as it was found for the first time that African populations do share some Neanderthal ancestry. Right now I’m reading a book “The Neanderthals Rediscovered”. It is a small but engrossing book and describes how the Neanderthals’ story is being transformed because of new fascinating scientific discoveries, including DNA.
Neanderthals have really gotten kind of a bad rap over the years. What scientists have been discovering is that while there are some differences in terms of skeletons, i.e., prominent brow ridges and protruding noses, etc., they may really not have been that different.
Some surprising facts about Neanderthals: they buried their dead and left grave markers; they were artists; they were extremely skilled hunters; they looked after sick and elderly family members; they had loud, high-pitched voices. However, one drawback is many modern day genetic illnesses likely came from them, one example being a gene that heightens the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
So the next time you tell someone they are acting like a Neanderthal, you might think twice about that. You may be be one of those six billion with Neanderthal DNA!
Thanks for reading!