Evolution May Have Deleted Neanderthal DNA

Natural selection may be behind the dearth of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans. The modern human genome should, by all accounts, have more Neanderthal genes. Experts agree that early European and Asian humans almost certainly bred with Neanderthals, an ideal recipe for rich, complex genotypes 60,000 years later. And yet, non-African humans tend to have less than 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Researchers may now have figured out why: in a November 8 PLOS Genetics study, scientists pinpoint natural selection, and the relatively large populations of humans versus Neanderthals, as reasons for these apparent reductions in Neanderthal DNA. “The human population size has historically been much larger, and this is important since selection is more efficient at removing deleterious variants in large populations,” study coauthor Ivan Juric, population geneticist at 23andMe, said in a statement. “Therefore, a weakly deleterious variant that could persist in Neanderthals could not persist in humans.”

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Read also: The Strength of Selection against Neanderthal Introgression

About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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