This has long puzzled scientists, as many Neanderthal remains have been found in Europe and the Middle East, but not as far east as the Altai Mountains in Central Asia.
Before that, it was the opposite
Now a group of researchers from the University of Geneva may be closer to an explanation.
In the study published in the scientific journal Advancement of scienceThey analyzed the genomes of 4,000 individuals who lived in both Asia and Europe over the past 40,000 years.
One discovery about ancient DNA is that the distribution of Neanderthal genes looked very different than it does today.
Among prehistoric people who lived as hunter-gatherers in Europe during the first 20,000 years after the extinction of Neanderthals, the opposite seemed to be true.
Here, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA was slightly higher among Homo sapiens in Europe than in Asia.
Therefore, the researchers who conducted this study believe that the explanation for the current distribution among the world’s population must be found later in history.
Specifically, about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago, when our ancestors transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to farmers — also known as the Neolithic Revolution.
At that time, people in what is now western Turkey began to mix with the hunter-gatherer society already existing in western and northern Europe.
A maneuver that may have diminished the Neanderthal legacy in Europe.
“They had fewer Neanderthal ancestors, so they diluted the Neanderthal heritage in the European population,” says Mathias Korat, one of the researchers who conducted the study. CNN.
He and the rest of the team behind the study aren’t sure yet what the shift would mean for Neanderthal DNA in Asia, since the number of ancient DNA samples was not high here.
In recent years, researchers have learned more about how genetic inheritance from Neanderthals affects us even today, and can affect our pain threshold, fertility, and risk of diseases like COVID-19.
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