It has been found that Neanderthal DNA may influence everything from nicotine addiction to depression trends in modern man.
Since the past half a dozen years or so, scientists have been in the know about the fact that modern Europeans have inherited 1% to 4% of their genes from Neanderthals.
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This led to various offshoot theories about how this small genetic inheritance influences everything from skin hue to allergic symptoms and even the burning of subcutaneous fats.
The fact that Europeans inherited part of their genetic makeup from this ancient and primitive form of man led to a wild goose chase about all the related things that European man has in common with Neanderthals.
While not everything can blamed on Neanderthal genes, some very small effects seem to follow Europeans wherever they go due to their Neanderthal ancestory. Immunity, skin rashes, neuropsychology, psychiatric diseases and fertility issues are all related to this Neanderthal inheritance.
The mix of genes that the primitive and modern type have in common may after all affect the manifestation of their physico-chemical systems. Skin was one marker that showed signs of heritability.
Some of the genes caused negative symptoms. While 40,000 years ago, the Neanderthal DNA may have proved beneficial in the context of the African savannah, today the Europeans are living in areas that were very different climatically.
So various allergies and skin problems arose. This was due to different bacteria and levels of sunlight in the novel environment that was European soil. Take the example of wound healing.
While helpful in a hazardous clime, this leads to strokes, embolism and pregnancy issues in European individuals. The genome project that shed light on this ancestory dating back to the Neanderthals also lent insights into such diseases as depression, cardiac arrest and arthritis.
"Our main finding is that Neanderthal DNA does influence clinical traits in modern humans: We discovered associations between Neanderthal DNA and a wide range of traits, including immunological, dermatological, neurological, psychiatric and reproductive diseases," said John Capra, evolutionary geneticist is an assistant professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University and senior author of the paper "The phenotypic legacy of admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals" published in today's issue of the journal Science.
The research needs to be further extended so more clues come out into the open. It seems that what was the norm as regards diet, activities and climate back then is not what we find today.
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So the genetic mismatch leads to a number of problems. This is rather like our original paleolithic diet being replaced by the junk food diet of modern times. Our biological systems do not accept it and so we develop a number of degenerative and autoimmune diseases.