Lots of primitive cavemen DNA found in modern humans

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Neanderthal image
A Neanderthal’s thick hair and skin kept them warm in cold weather, which was useful DNA for our human ancestors.

Neanderthals, an extinct species of primitive cavemen, don’t seem very related to modern day humans. After all, we don’t drag clubs around like savage beasts anymore! However, a recent study found that our DNA – the set of instructions cells use to build our body – actually have a lot in common with Neanderthals.

According to researchers, modern day humans had babies with Neanderthals around 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. So, even though Neanderthals eventually died out, their DNA continues to thrive in humans, especially in areas related to hair and skin.

To reach this conclusion, scientists studied DNA from about 1,000 living individuals. While there was less than 1% similarity with the Neanderthals overall, the DNA related to hair and skin had as much as 70% in common. Researchers suspect this helped our ancient ancestors’ bodies keep warm in cold climates.

However, not all of the Neanderthal DNA was good for us. Apparently, we also inherited bad DNA that makes us more vulnerable to diabetes, liver disease, and smoking addiction.

Featured image courtesy of Boris Doesborg on Flickr. Image of smiling Neanderthal courtesy of Gianfranco Goria on Flickr