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Study Tracks Neanderthal Traits in Modern Humans

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Neanderthal light traitsLEIPZIG, GERMANY—Scientists linked 15 physical traits in modern humans to Neanderthal DNA based on analysis of the genomes and information on physical appearance, diet, sun exposure, behavior, and disease of more than 100,000 present-day Britons. According to an Associated Press report, the study suggests that genetic material passed down from Neanderthals has contributed to the skin tone, hair color, and sleep and mood patterns of non-Africans. All of these traits can be linked to people's exposure to sunlight, explained Michael Dannemann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He and his colleagues speculate that Neanderthals were well adapted to lower levels of ultraviolet radiation when modern humans arrived in Eurasia and the two populations began to mix. The study also indicates that Neanderthals could have had as wide a variety of hair and skin tones as people do today. For more, go to “Decoding Neanderthal Genetics.”

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