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Neanderthal DNA Tracked in Icelanders’ Genomes

Friday, April 24, 2020

Iceland DNALEIPZIG, GERMANY—According to a statement released by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, a team of scientists from Aarhus University, deCODE Genetics, and the Max Planck Society looked for fragments of Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of more than 27,000 Icelanders, combined what they found, and reconstructed at least 38 percent of a Neanderthal genome. When the researchers compared this DNA with other Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes, they found that the Neanderthal DNA in modern Icelanders is more similar to Neanderthal DNA found in Croatians than to Neanderthal DNA found in Russians. Icelanders were also found to carry traces of Denisovan DNA, which may have been transferred to modern humans by Neanderthals whose ancestors mixed with Denisovans. Laurits Skov of Aarhus University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology added that a comparison of the mutations found on the fragments of Neanderthal DNA with corresponding modern human DNA also suggests that Neanderthal children had older mothers and younger fathers than the modern humans. The researchers concluded that overall, Neanderthal DNA contributes to a slightly reduced risk of prostate cancer, slightly shorter height, and slightly faster blood clotting time for today's Icelanders. For more, go to "Neanderthal Epigenome."

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