Are you the type of person who wakes up early? They may have inherited this from Neanderthals

Are you the type of person who wakes up early?  They may have inherited this from Neanderthals

New research shows that Neanderthals were a morning people.

Researchers now write that they have compared DNA from Neanderthal fossils with modern humans The New York Times.

The results show that some Neanderthal genes that determine their perception of time may have been transferred to a portion of the population that liked to rise early.

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Lots in common

Since the 1990s, research on Neanderthal DNA has shown that we have a lot in common with extinct human species. About 700,000 years ago, our lineages split, most likely in Africa. While the ancestors of modern humans remained largely in Africa, Neanderthals migrated to Eurasia.

Then the immigrants split into two groups about 400 thousand years ago. Those who moved west became Neanderthals, while the group that moved east evolved into the Denisovans.

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But about 40 thousand years ago, traces of these two species disappeared. Before they became extinct, our species was able to spread and live with extinct humans. Today, traces of their DNA are found in most modern humans.

Affects the circadian rhythm

Researcher John Capra, a geneticist at the University of California, along with several other researchers, studied the genes that were transferred and believe that some genes gave advantages in the struggle for survival.

Some genes that became more common over several generations were associated with sleep. In the latest study published in the journal Genome biology and evolutionThey investigated how these genes affected the circadian rhythms of extinct human species.

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Within the cells of all animal species, hundreds of proteins interact with each other in a 24-hour cycle. Not only does it control sleep and wake-up time, but it also affects our appetite and metabolism.

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246 genes

To explore Neanderthal and Denisovan circadian rhythms, Dr. Capra and his colleagues examined 246 genes that help control the body's circadian clock. They compared gene versions from Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils with those found in modern humans.

The researchers found more than 1,000 mutations that were unique only to modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Their analysis revealed that many of these mutations likely have important effects on how the biological clock works.

The researchers looked at the small number of variants in our internal clock that some living humans inherited from Neanderthals and Denisovans. To find out the effects of these variants on humans, they examined the genes of half a million volunteers from the United Kingdom through UK Biobank, a British DNA database.

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Along with their DNA, the volunteers provided answers to a long list of health-related questions, including whether they were morning birds or night birds. To Capra's surprise, almost all of the ancient circadian variants increased the chances that volunteers would be morning people.

– Unfavorable in itself

The tendency to be a morning person may have been evolutionarily advantageous to our ancestors living north in Europe, and thus may have been a Neanderthal genetic trait worth preserving.

– We don't necessarily think that being a morning person is beneficial in and of itself, but this is actually an indication of a circadian rhythm that is more able to adapt to changing light levels. Having a faster biological clock also leads to waking up earlier, Capra says.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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