Those who believe Neanderthal traits to be a positive, might be racists?

The London Times is reporting, Jan. 15, on a new study just released by Swiss researchers,

Neanderthal DNA gives humans healthy advantage

By mixing our DNA with that of now-extinct human species we gained a short cut to all the adaptations they had accrued over millennia.

“When we expanded out of Africa, this was what helped us to adapt to our environment and to pathogens we had never seen,” Alexandre Gouy, from the University of Berne, said.

More on the new study at phys.org,

Scientists have shown that single hominid  can convey advantages, including a famous case of high-altitude adaption, which was the result of DNA swapping, otherwise known as genomic introgression, of a Denisovan for the gene EPAS1. That discovery may help explain why Tibetans are uniquely adapted to high-altitude living.

Further:

in a new study published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, scientists Alexandre Gouy and Laurent Excoffier have developed new computational tools to better analyze human genome datasets, and found more evidence of a legacy of ancient hominid adaptation, particularly to help fight off infectious diseases…

“Our results confirm that archaic introgression is widespread in immunity-related genes and that pathogens represent a strong selective pressure which could be one of the major causes of adaptive evolution in humans,” said the authors. “Overall, our results suggest that archaic introgression has affected human metabolism and response to different types of pathogens (bacteria, virus and protists), which have been critically determinant during human adaptive history,” said Excoffier. [Emphasis added]

According to the-scientist.com:

Neanderthal DNA makes up approximately 2 percent of the genomes of present-day people of non-African descent.

Some modern Europeans score significantly higher than 2% Neanderthal.  It is not uncommon for 23 And Me test takers to get results of +4 even +5%.  There’s even anecdotal evidence it could be as high as 7%.  (See, The Atlantic, 2012, James Fallows, “At 5% you are an outlier.  Also quora.com, 2019, “Are some people more Neanderthal than others”)

Sub-Saharan Africans do not have Neanderthal DNA, while some Upper Continental Africans have tiny traces, usually described by geneticists like Svante Pääbo and David Reich, as less than .5%.

Kristen Vogt Veggeberg is a PhD Student, Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She’s also on the board of ScienceTalk.org that coordinates an annual science conference.

From MassLive.com, Jan. 21,

My brother has 4% Neanderthal DNA. What does that actually mean?

Like a lot of Americans, my brother decided to fork over some cash and have his DNA analyzed to see his ancestry via 23andMe. The usual information popped up — some German ancestry, some Scandinvian, but then a strange name and number…4% Neanderthal.

Neanderthals are an extinct relative of Homo Sapiens, having died out around 40,000 years ago (Sic). (Note – Neanderthals went extinct 30,000 years ago.)

Vogt Veggeberg goes on to note their unique and interesting characteristics that her and her brothers noticed while growing up.

my brothers and I often joked about our physical anomalies while growing up — we have large rib cages and shoulders, wide nostrils, and can handle brutal cold temperatures, which are all traits of what scientists such as Joshua Akey have attributed to Neanderthals… [Additionally]  the effect on skin, as well as fatty tissue beneath, as Neanderthals survived in brutally cold environments thousands of years ago.

Quite ironically, the University of Chicago professor discounts her unique traits as unimportant and even goes on to suggest those who see them beneficial might be racists.  She asks “What does this all mean…”

Nothing much outside of interesting facts as they come, but I do find it funny when certain individuals glorify blond, blue-eyed, fair-skinned individuals like myself and my brothers. They have no idea that we’re not fully human.

 

 

 

Eric

Author Eric

FSU grad, US Navy Veteran. Houston, Texas

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