Find Your Inner Neanderthal

They had bigger brains and muscles, but for some reason Neanderthals —thick boned humans who thrived for hundreds of thousands of years in Europe and parts of Asia— died out about 30,000 years ago, while we modern humans survived.

Why we, Homo sapiens, flourished and our Homo neandertalensis cousins died out is an evolutionary mystery that biologist are trying to unravel.

In the last few years, scientists have uncovered clues not just to what the lives of Neanderthals may have been like, but also clues that tell us more about what it means to be a modern human.

Most interesting of all is that, although Neanderthals disappeared long ago, their DNA lives on in all non-African people.

23andMe now offers a lab allowing customers to connect with their prehistoric roots. The lab, developed by one of our resident computational biologists, Eric Durand, compares two modern human genomes with the Neanderthal genome to determine what percentage of your own DNA is Neanderthal. Before coming to 23andMe, Eric worked on the first draft of the Neanderthal genome and on analysis of the Denisova genome, another of our early human cousins. The method we use to determine the percent of Neanderthal DNA a person has is similar to the one Eric  helped develop while working at the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. See Eric’s white paper for a technical explanation of the methodology.

Most people have Neanderthal DNA, on average about 2.5 percent, but there are outliers, who have much more.

What it means to have a higher percentage of Neanderthal DNA — whether you’re hairier, or brutish or short, for instance — isn’t known. There are some theories, however, of how Neanderthals contributed to modern humans, including that they gave us some sort of “hybrid vigor,” according to Peter Parham, a geneticist at Stanford University School of Medicine.

At the very least research appears to support the theory that at some point during the tens of thousands of years Neanderthals and modern humans lived side by side, a few of them may have shacked up.

Or as Elizabeth Kolbert deftly phrased it in the New Yorker:
“Before modern humans ‘replaced’ the Neanderthals, they had sex with them.”

Provocative to say the least, but it’s actually an idea that’s floated around for some time. Anybody who ever read Jean M. Auel’s saucy prehistoric romance books beginning with “Clan of the Cave Bear” could tell you that. But the notion that modern humans and Neanderthals got way past first base, hooked up and even had children together still doesn’t tell us much about what it means now to have a smidgen of Neanderthal in your DNA.

Svante Pääbo, the Swedish geneticist behind the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, explains that from an evolutionary point of view comparing the modern human’s genome to that of the Neanderthal has great value.

Humans and Neanderthals share a common ancestor with chimpanzees — our next closest mammalian relative — that goes back between five and seven million years. Comparing the human genome with that of chimps tells us a lot about evolution over millions of years. But by having the Neanderthal genome sequence — now 55 percent completed — and comparing that with modern humans, we can learn much more about evolutionary changes over the last 30,000 years.

It may be that the DNA of other prehistoric human groups also are intermixed in our own DNA. Much like with Neanderthals, scientists extracted ancient DNA from the skeletal remains of another ancient cousin known as the Denisovans. The remains — a finger bone — were found in a cave in Siberia and showed that Denisovans were cousins of Neanderthals. They lived in Asia and disappeared about 40,000 years ago. Their DNA is found today in Melanesians.

As for the comparisons with the Neanderthals, so far, Pääbo’s team has found almost 80 genetic variants that are unique to modern humans. The function of these variants could help us understand what distinguishes us from Neanderthal.

Apparently Pääbo’s work has also resonated beyond the scientific community as well. At a talk late last year, Pääbo told a group of neuroscientists that for months he’s been keeping emails from people who have claimed that they were Neanderthal and should be included in his study. Several women have written to him volunteering their husbands as subjects for study.

Got Neanderthal DNA?

23andMe customers can find their inner Neanderthal or at least how much Neanderthal DNA they have at 23andMe Ancestry Labs. Not yet a customer? Visit our store!


  • Robert Holmes

    This stuff has always facinated me, even before I found out that the Neanderthals were not a link in our chain, but a seperate branch. I have wondered if people have retained Neanderthal traits. When I found out that they were a differnt branch, I wondered how much of their DNA had crossed over.

    Anecdotal evidence that I have observed is that those who kind of look like Neanderthals tended to be smarter. (I don’t look like that BTW, but I’m in the Genius range of IQ) I have had friends and bosses over the years who have looked like a “caveman” who were brilliant. i.e. Large lower jaw, sloped forhead, hairy on their bodies, but balding on their head. etc. Most of these guys are not very tall and have broad muscled shoulders too. Look at the co- founder of Apple Steve Wosniak, especially when he was younger. Guy is brilliant, but he has that look.

    Like I said anecdotal, but I have seen or know at least a dozen guys who looked like this that were very smart.

    I would love to know how much I have if any, as much of my ancenstory is from modern day Hungary, right in the middle of the Neanderthal range, and the U.K.

    As I stated above I don’t have these features. The closest celeb that comes to how I look is the late Christopher Reeves. He is much better looking, but I use him as a baseline.

    • REX BOVEE

      Um, yeah, what about double-Y K#rk A##erson?

      • michael hamill

        i think Neanderthals died out 30,000 years ago. That is like 1.6 thousand generations ago. Phenotype, or how one looks, can change over just one generation. So it would seem unlikely that any one displaying physical attributes of the Neanderthal today could signify a signifacant link with x23 or the Neanderthal .
        Though I have heard tell that blonde Mongolian nomads can be traced back to pre-historic warrior hoursewomen in Greek ledgend that supposedly migrated eastward around the time of Alexander. These nomads are tied geneticly to Sythians or people dwelling along the Black Sea region some 2,300 years ago.
        I don’t know. What do you think?

    • Iberian

      It all makes since…
      I sincerely believe that natural selection is to blame for the loss of most Neanderthal gene from the modern Homo sapiens, both female and male alike would rather mate with taller and probably better looking home sapiens.
      But!! Neanderthals also had attractive characteristics for example: a stronger and hairier body on the male-Neanderthal-mutt, I know most women today are more attractive to hairless body but I think in a much cooler Europe and Eurasia 50,000 years ago hairy body could have been a preference!
      And possibly in female and or male alike a lighter shade of skin? This is still some characteristics of many Europeans today!
      I’m also going to mention something that has intrigued me for a while and I have not heard being mentioned as a possible physical link to our Neanderthal heritage: It is known that most (if not all) Europeans regardless of their eye color pos-birth, pre-birth or as fetus they all have grayish/ blue eyes! Could this be a link?

      • Tony P

        You don’t need a complex sociobiological and sex-selection based theory to explain what happened. Suffice to say, some will have sex with anybody and anything. In other cases, you might have had small, isolated populations tossed together by chance. That would be enough to account for the results. Especially when you consider that the vast populations of the historical era have descended from much smaller prehistoric populations.

      • Paul Gerlack

        If you are correct about your theory of natural selection what do you think is to come with our future as the women today have sex with short fat bald wealthy men.

    • pieter prall

      Question: What about dental characters?

    • Kathy

      Interesting observation. My father’s side of the family was of Irish ancestry. They were all very hairy, with heavy eyebrows and the men were not particularly tall. But they (and the women too) were exceptionally brilliant. Although most of my family is deceased now, I would love taking the DNA test myself out of curiosity.

    • http://ArtistsintheKitchen.org Mike Felber

      Perhaps you are brilliant, but if so, you know little about Anthropology. The Neanderthals had perhaps slightly bigger brains-in dispute-but all indications are that they were not as smart as contemporaneous Homo Sapiens. Who far out-shined them in tool & culture development, & Neanderthals were stronger & seemed better adapted to the cold, but did not have advanced weaponry, They were like A. Robustus, we the brainer. Their brains were lower in the cerebral cortxe part, where more advanced & abstract thinking occurred, & bigger in the primitive back areas. Iit is highly doubtful that the brain soft tissue was not organized as today. Likely our connections between parts were more complex too..

      Also there is zero reason to believe that more muscular, hairier, &/or shorter folks are smarter. AND no reason to think Neanderthals were more often bald. Plus they are described as having “no chin”, which rarely goes along with the strong jawline you describe. And had large noses, & clearly small nosed folks like east Asians do not tend to be lower IQ.

      Anyway I do not think that the small amount of Neanderthal genes folks often have will make them more stupid-the brain related stuff likely was not selected for. But it certainly cannot make them smarter!

      • jsland1

        There are other more psychological characteristics that wouldn’t be exposed in a skeleton but only in a living Neanderthal’s relationship to a uniquely wired brain. I often wonder if there’s a more introverted way of being in the world that was very good at escaping danger but not as good in making practical decisions which might have characterised them.

  • Kempy stark

    Whatvabout people of African decent

    • alan

      Since Neanderthals were from europe and asia, they never came in contact with africans. Only the groups that left Africa during that time in history came in contact with Neanderthal.

      • TSF

        That’s correct. Sub-Saharan Africans do not have the Neanderthal genes. Caucasians and Asians generally do, according to the findings.

        • Jenell

          According to the 23andme site, west Africans have on average, about .5% Neanderthal DNA. Mixed African groups, especially outside of the continent, are obviously going to have a bit more. I’m Black American (85% sub-Saharan) with 1.3% Neanderthal DNA (according to 23andme).

        • Ben

          Archaeology has shown that Neanderthal and Modern Humans also came into contact and interbred in the Middle East. Proximity to the Silk Road passing from China through the Middle East to the coastal areas of North and West Africa would have provided a likely conduit for genetic sharing. In the United States, many people of southern descent are a mix of caucasion and sub Saharan African. I am one of these, ethnically mostly Finn and Irish with 2.9% neanderthal and also 1.8% sub Saharan African.

        • Tom

          Where did it say North Africans came into contact with neanderthals?

        • Bar Lowrey

          Tom–
          I read an article in Science some decades ago. A cave in Iraq contain a lower layer of Neanderthal artifacts, then modern human, then Neanderthal again. The climate was colder when the Neanderthals were there.

  • Asha Gidwani

    There is a concern, that this type of research and data about people’s ancestry may lead to a new kind of racism. One often hears derogatory references about simian similarities of some individuals .
    Just imagine, if some of us were linked to neanderthals as family members. Certainly therevarevsocieties and religions which may reject such people

    • Claudlili

      Well if you notice,now that we are all Neandrothals the conversation is changing fron them being inferior to being superior. Well you’re all wrong! Only me and people who look exactly like me have the perfect genetic combination and superior intellect,looks and so on. Too bad you are all too ignorant to realize it. Just be grateful I have children so they may improve the species. I would tell you what I look like but I don’t want you to feel bad when you realize you don’t look like me. That’s just how awesome I am.

      • ME!

        Thank you… for speaking the perfect truth,
        but for one detail…
        The author of this poignant comment, should read: “Me” :-P

  • Steve

    @Kempy stark – Sub-Saharan African descendants would likely have little to none shared genetics with Neaderthals.

    @Asha – Just another good reason to reject religion. What you have stated is a perfect example of people placating religion by ignoting reality. It is not a concern of the research, but a concern of religious ignorance.

    • annette murch

      You are so right. Often most ALL organized religion does just the opposite of it’s stated attributes of love your brother. Way to go.

  • Arannach

    Ha! So according to 23andme analysis, I comprise of 3% Neanderthal DNA… Regardless of the consequence, I’m using this as an excuse for my stocky, hairy physique.. he,he :oP Being a descendent of Y-Haplogroup I, I always wondered how my ancestors would have interacted when living beside Neanderthals in Europe 28,000 – 30,000 years ago. I’m kind of chuffed that I am part Neanderthal.

    As for the mention of racism I read on this blog, I feel there is no room for that word in this faction of science and archaeology. If anything, this sort of study dissolves any “differences” amongst us and brings us together to remind us WE are all related! ;o)

    • annette murch

      Correct, exactly, well stated!

    • RSummerlin

      I for one am perfectly comfortable with my inner Neandrethal. I do however wish that someone would find the gene responsible for ear hair when you pass 40. It is hard for a simple Neandrethal to trim what he cannot see in the mirror. I guess I need a better tool. haha.

      • Mehki

        Don’t forget hairy earlobes, long nose hairs, and bushy eyebrows. Yes, a better tool for sure!

    • http://www.brianfender.com Brian

      I have never understood my attraction to hairy men. But for as long as I can remember I have been drawn to very Neanderthalish types. I completely understand the absurdity of it, but it has always, always driven me crazy. Somebody needs to do some research on that. I know I am not alone:)

      • Lee Ann

        Read “The Naked Ape” by Morris. He explains our attraction to certain appearances, that show maturity, such as hairiness, hair in the right places, etc. A good example of this is that an aroused woman gets redder lips and ear lobes, which show excitement. Also the labia get redder. So the red lips attract a male, just as seeing female parts. So hairiness would show masculinity and good hormones.

  • David

    Steve,

    I agree. This kind of information could seriously lead to advances especially in medicine. There are some drugs that work best on certain ethnicities but not with others. Perhaps this could be one of those reasons.

    And if nothing else this would be way cool to know.

    • John

      I have what is known as chronic severe treatment resistant ( medication ) depression along with elevated anxiety. I have sought help via therapy and a really vast assortment of medications with little effect from medication, but a pretty good response from therapies DBT, cognitive restructuring thought patterns, breathing correctly and relaxation techniques. My Dr. administered a new test via swabbing my mouth and this new tech will show what medications a person will metabolize. She was very surprised to see my genetic make up will not metabolize most SSRI’s, nor older meds, only Lexapro to a medium degree, thus my lack of response to anti depressants. She commented this is extremely rare for my ethnic back ground, German, English, Connecticut native American woodlands Indians, Celtic ( freckles) and red hair. This is all I know one 99th of my genetic history thats recorded. I have always wanted both maternal and paternal DNA testing to trace my ancestry. When I am laying down in my tipee with the fire casting shadows on the poles, it takes me back…some where, very ancient, so familiar, like I’ve been there for ages. I’m very different than others, very. My thoughts, intuitions, de’ja vu, instincts, natural survival skills, problem solving, fight and flight response etc. I feel unique, unable to fit in, normal small talk-no interest. I am drawn to space, stars, ancient history pre – deluge evidence etc. I am defiant of this societies hanster wheel life style. I must some how afford these tests to better understand myself, maybe then this hidious depressin and anxiety might make more sence. I equate how I feel like a inmate must feel knowing they can never be free, or sit in the sun etc. Am I alone?

      • John

        I forgot to mention these feeling began at age 6, always in the woods alone with my dog, miles away from home, exploring, catching turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, craw fish, hand fishing trout in streams etc. There were no other children around for yrs, we live way out in the woods, nearest house was a mile, all homes from 1683 to 1800′s with no children my age. Nature was my playground. When placed in kindergarden, I isolated. They kept me back a yr then saying I was not mature enough. I finally made aquaintences, but could never truly bond with another as real friends do. 1st grade was torture. I tried to relate but wanted to hunt, fish, bult forts and trap as I was drawn to this. Almost programmed like responses. Bullied daily for being stand offish until I snapped and beat em all senceless in one shot. I’m questioning if my DNA is different, wander gatherer, warrior, hunter, fierce protector. All I know is I am different and still am. Some day this DNA tests will be insurance covered norms, to properly treat individuals medical treatments, as we are all so diverse but one, homo sapiens.

        • gali

          Well John, they say we are but a sum total of all our experiences, and I would
          think that would also mean going way back before we arrived. Fitting in, I suppose
          that was my quest for most my life, was successful enough in that endeavor, but
          at my now ripe old age and seeing how the ways of this world are following, I
          think I would rather be on the outside then in. Theres nothing wrong with being
          one with nature and certainly having a dog for a companion is a real fine idea, both
          nature and canine will tell you no lies. The path you have chosen may be different
          then most, but thats okay too. Leave out all the elements of harm to your fellow
          man and beast and then know that the path you have chosen is a good one for
          you.

        • Pamela

          Not ever fitting in, always fight or flight, at peace in the woods. Enjoy hunting, working the earth, swimming. Most other people look ridiculous to me, they talk too much and say meaningless things. Cologne? I can’t smell them. I don’t like that, because I can smell fear, sickness and aggression. Makeup? Clowns. High heels? I walk barefoot. When I enjoy something, I truly savor it like no other I know. What am I? When I was younger, I thought that I might be an earth child, a wiccan, but that wasn’t it. I suppose doctors would have a handy label for me. Then I started looking at genetics. It hurts the soul to try to conform. Don’t do it.

      • Sherm

        So I am not alone and a little whacky. You describe my feelings as well

        • Ron

          John:
          Your teepee sounds like just the vehicle to connect with your inner hunter gatherer, blogging, googling a wonderful variation of nice speartip design you can chip off your own stone on your laptop or smart phone…….
          Wow! you all need to slow down on the herb………..

      • Christopher Nelson

        John: I wonder if you have any Finnish (Suomi) ancestry. Or any of the other Ugrian ethnic groups, like Esonian, (ethnic cousins of the Finns) Karalian, (people of Finno-Ugrian extraction who now live in a section of the Karalian Penninsula that the Soviets stole from the Finns in 1940, and again in 1945.) The feelings and tendencies, even the depression to a certain degree, are often reported as common among Finns and their cousins. The Finns are my mother’s people… I have experienced some of what you describe, from very early on, only to find some fairly close relatives in Finland, (aunt and uncle, cousins,) who say Yes, this is not unheard of.

  • Peter

    Some have much more than 2.5% How much more? Among modern humans, how much is the maximum of Neanderthal genes?

  • http://www.spittalstreet.com Sandy

    This “stuff” is indeed fascinating. Did I just read in your article that there’s proof that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees?

  • http://Pulse Jack

    Nothing is wrong in revealing the mysteries of the past, but using such discoveries as evidence in disparity among the races will always fail. Most theories propagated on the mental superiority of one race over the other in the 19th century have all become mere insinuations.

  • http://www.onestoproductions.com Natalie

    Well this is good to know, its official I am a Neanderthal and its a good thing, now I can be as piggish as I want and when people disagree with me I can hit them with a club.

  • George B

    It is quite likely that a major volcanic eruption played a major role in wiping the Neanderthal. It is the Campi Flegrei eruption that left a huge caldera, most of which is under water just offshore of present day Naples.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campi_Flegrei

    This event spread ash to the Don river in what is now Russia. It would have created a “dead zone” where no animals or people could migrate across as they would have starved before they got across. It marks the transition from the middle to the upper Paleolithic and it would have absolutely wiped out most Neanderthal populations in what is now the areas of Hungary, Slovakia, etc. The migrating herds would have been cut off and it is now believed that this single eruption likely started the chain of events that led to the extinction of the Neanderthal which were concentrated in a fairly small geographical region at the time because of glacial pressure to the North.

    • Kathleen

      I have read that Neanderthals required three times as much protein to support their heavy bodies and that as populations increased, it became harder for them to get sufficient food. That, combined with the caldera you mentioned, could well have been the reason for the disappearance of Neanderthals.

      • Ashiqul Saiyed

        I wonder if magnetic reversal had anything to do with their extinction 30,000 years ago! Another reversal is coming 12/21/2012 ?!

        • Stewart Fakelastname

          No, there was no magnetic reversal that was going to happen on 12/21/2012, nor mysterious hidden planet that was going to crash into the earth, nor galactic alignment that was going to cause mega-tides, nor any of that stuff that scare-mongers were selling. Check your compass – it still points north!

          One amazing thing happened – the days started getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere (just like happens every winter solstice!) And people who use the Mayan calendar had to get a new piece of stone to carve and a new magnet to stick it onto their refrigerator with.

          Meanwhile, the climate is getting warmer, not because of some scary factor outside human experience but because we keep burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. And war is still as popular as ever. And way too many people die from smoking tobacco or doing other stupid things. You can help fix those problems, instead of being distracted by disaster merchants.

        • Pds314

          My compass is still pointing North. I think something is wrong…

  • Debbie Reed

    I am so glad that you have done this research and made it possible for anyone to find out their biological heritage. I am heading to your website to find out how to get my DNA checked.

    Thank you,

    Debbie

  • guy harris

    Great to be livinng in the area modern humans grew from during last progenitor stage. Email me if u want a copy of Curtis Marean’s Scientific American article. Guypharris@worldonline.co.za

  • Rich

    Anecdotal evidence. . . just look at generations of Northern Europeans. The picture you show of what a neanderthal appeared like, well, it closely resembles my Lithuanian grandfather. Short, stocky stature and the shortest, heaviest fingers I ever saw. As for my dad, also short, stocky and you couldn’t see his shoulders or back because of his “sweater”. He’s was a physcian, as is my brother.
    As for me, 5’4″ stocky, light skinned, and below average intellect. Can’t even spell that other word for doctor. So much for theories.

    • david

      haha!

  • jeannie

    Now that we supposedly know that we get the ‘red hair’ gene from Neanderthals, have any averages showed up in testing done in people with red hair? are they more likely to have a higher percentage of ‘neanderthal genes’ in their DNA? It would make sense. And I wonder about further research that suggests Neanderthals might have had some kind of telepathic communication, since is it generally agreed upon that they could not speak like we do?

  • Rosie Batcakes

    First, I have to say that Steve of Apple Computers has a high cranium, not a sloping forehead; having that said I always wondered if speciesm was at work in the Victorian Anthropologists and hoped that by now we would have come to realise that there are lots of different kinds of people that are all just people. We should indeed be careful how much we label and differentiate. In my opinion,most of the people interested in DNA testing for themselves are seeking some kind of proof of elitism. Any elevated characteristics you have will all ready be apparent. Neanderthal ‘type’ people were very advanced and posessed art and religion but, perhaps, did not have the environment conducive to leisure that what we are considering more advanced people possessed. Beauty is also in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps Mayans were trying to get the Neanderthal look when they flatened their heads? I would like to see people considering each other as members of varying families which would eventually include all our earthly members. We are not our bodies but sojour here briefly. We are all given different gifts to explore not deplore and, for me, this research is in the nature of curiousity only creating new questions where answers once ruled!

  • Rosie Batcakes

    By the way, Jeannie, love your question!

  • Gayle

    I am very proud of my 2.8% Neanderthal DNA. Neanderthals had larger brains than modern humans, cared for the sick and elderly, buried their dead, wore jewelry in the form of painted sea shells, crafted musical instruments, and gave us hybrid vigor.

    • http://www.cheappaintjob.com Harold

      And ceased to exist for no apparent reason!

      • ned anderthal

        Ceased to exist could mean no longer lived on earth.

      • Pds314

        Ceased to exist, probably because of their -O blood type making females mating with Sapiens males make the female infertile after just one birth.

    • http://tinyurl.com/blogger-raven Raven

      Gayle: “… buried their dead….”

      On their sides, in fetal position, covered in flower petals, according to some analyses.

      The emotions implied… I find myself weeping for people 60-80 thousand years dead.

    • Lee Ann

      I haven’t been tested, although I should, out of curiousity. My geneaology has me as the 27th gr granddaughter of William the Conqueror, the Saxon that made England Anglo Saxon. Every generation in the modern family of the past 200 years has one or two tall, heavy boned people, surrounded by average height and weight. My brother was 5’10″, 165 pounds. I am 6′ tall, big boned along with carrying some extra weight. I am hairier than he is, he cannot grow a beard, I could grow a beard on my legs alone.

      • brythan

        William was a Norman, not Anglo-Saxon. The Saxon, Angle and Celtic peoples, representing the majority population prior to the Conguest, hated William and his Norman-French barons.

  • Able Lawrence

    Many of us harbour genetic material from our hominid cousins.
    Having accepted that, it is too far fetched to expect correlations between crude neanderthan gene percentage and physical features. It is difficult to pinpoint association between diseases and SNPs. While it might make a lot of sense to look at genes associated with adaptation to cold northern climes, going for external physical attributes is on slippery territory. It can be attempted only when we have more robust sequence data from more neanderthal (and other hominid) specimens.
    Before that, how should we now consider other hominids like neanderthal.
    Now that we know that successful mating was possible, should we relabel them as Homo sapiens as a first step.

    • brythan

      The most interesting benefits/characteristics that some of these researchers suggest may have come from the Neanderthals are possible protections against disease according to the documentary that was released.

  • Kilda

    I am an Argentinean. My grand parents in my mother side were Irish. My father paternal grand parents were of Irish ancestry and in his mother side of Spanish ancestry a mixture of basque and Canary Islanders.

    I do not have big bones, but I have short legs and arms. My arms are shorter from elbow to shoulder. I have reddish blonde hair and blue eyes. I have 3 extra numerary ribs, according to my dentist my teeth has “unusual roots”. In my feet my the bigger toe is separated from the rest. My blood type is – 0 My brothers have their head elogated in the occipital area.

    Even before the Neanderthal Genome discovery, I somehow suspected I have neanderthal blood and I would like to know for sure.

    • Pds314

      Well, -O is definitely a Neanderthal characteristic. As are the Ribs and Teeth.

      Can make an “EE” sound very well? I am pretty sure an actual 100% Neanderthal would have quite a bit of trouble.

  • greenknight

    The fun part of this is an interesting side debate it opens, are the features now found in some humans that were the standard for Neanderthals (long the source of cries of “See they were just a population that all had those features but they were humans like us the same species even.”) the result of them being just an outlier population of homo sapiens … or are those features present in -us- because of the neanderthal dna? And since African decent people (without the Eurasian stopover since all the hominid species started in Africa) don’t posses these traits, but those with the genetic evidence of Neanderthal interbreeding do, that the answer is obvious. We got it from them, which means that those traits aren’t part of the traits of the original species, which means that Neanderthals were a different species or at least subspecies (and a true subspecies cannot breed with the main species any more than a separate one by conventional biology) which means that the thinking that all hybrid breedings produce sterile young is disputed and that ancient myths of “changelings” and half-breed children between humans and not-quite-humans (whatever they are called in the myth from gods to little people) become one step more clear. Because we have scientific proof that such events happened in the misty prehistory of Humanity.

  • brian

    Well, just took a peek at my 23andme neanderthal results and I am in the 95th percentile (3%). Explains my stocky frame, abundant (albeit blonde) body hair and other cavemanish qualities… May also explain the fact that after I went to a lot’s of green plant, meat and healthy fat diet… I lost 100lbs!

    • Lee Ann

      Brian, I could stand to lose 75 pounds on my own. I did a DNA test for a research lab checking fibromyalgia and other illnesses that we all seem to have. My DNA says I have two recessive genes for galactosemia. Two recessive genes should have put me in a home for handicapped children, retardation, physical deformities. Instead, I am normal (crazy sometimes but mostly normal). We didn’t know our family carried this gene, nowadays they do a blood test on newborns for it, but they didn’t test for it 60 years ago. My Mother lost a baby brother in 1929 due to unknown reasons. My aunt died earlly of cirrhosis and never drank. But drinking milk causes the milk sugar to store in the liver causing cirrhosis. I have one cousin with cirrhosis now. My family has had infants die of unknown reason, cirrhosis of the liver in nondrinkers, etc. So now we know. I would imagine if I went on a diet of meat and veggies, I might lose weight. As long as I stay away from milk products, which I have a hard time staying away from.

  • http://www.scribd.com/doc/74944514/ Robert Dole

    Autism: The Eusocial Hominid Hypothesis

    Abstract:

    ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) are hypothesized as one of many adaptive human cognitive variations that have been maintained in modern populations via multiple genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Introgression from “archaic” hominids (adapted for less demanding social environments) is conjectured as the source of initial intraspecific heterogeneity because strict inclusive fitness does not adequately model the evolution of distinct, copy-number sensitive phenotypes within a freely reproducing population.

    Evidence is given of divergent encephalization and brain organization in the Neanderthal (including a ~1520 cc cranial capacity, larger than that of modern humans) to explain the origin of the autism subgroup characterized by abnormal brain growth.

    Autism and immune dysfunction are frequently comorbid. This supports an admixture model in light of the recent discovery that MHC alleles (genes linked to immune function, mate selection, neuronal “pruning,” etc.) found in most modern human populations come from “archaic” hominids.

    Mitochondrial dysfunction, differential fetal androgen exposure, lung abnormalities, and hypomethylation/CNV due to hybridization are also presented as evidence.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/74944514/

    • Paul

      What?

    • Sherman

      That doesn’t make any sense. I bet it is not a supportable theory either. I have 5 children, 2 of them (both boys) are ASD, and while one has the larger head the other does not,They are both very tall for their age and slender, neither of them have a sloped forehead and if they go bald it will be my fault. Their individual symptoms are different. Holy Cow they are individuals. While both of their parents (All of my children are from the same parents) have tendencies of ASD, neither of us are. Neither are my three daughters although they all share very similar traits and characteristics. All of my children have above average IQ’s. I have a genius range IQ. My argument isn’t that ASD isn’t genetic. My argument is that it is not a throw back of Hybrid Neandertal (correct and most scientifically accepted pronunciation of this word.) gene that we all probably have unless we are of African descent. If this were a factor I think we would see more widespread ASD.
      The theory that because we haven’t bred it out yet, despite a “freely reproducing society” is ludicrous. We aren’t that freely reproducing since we have a large amount, of any population, not leaving their area of origin to reproduce. Most populated areas of the United States are, and have been, populated by mass settlements of extended families, or groups that married and combined to become families. For instance the mass settlement of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah by Mormon pioneers and immigrants. I am a product of that. Or the Mass settlement of the North Eastern Coast by Protestant Puritans looking for religious freedom. I’m also a product of that, on both my Maternal and Paternal side. I’m just saying that it is very broad spectrum to assume that just because we are able to marry where we will in America, doesn’t mean that we do. Thus diminishing the prospect of having a freely reproducing public; because we are still hindered by the fact that 100 years back,in any ones genealogy, if you are of European, Scandinavian, Celtic-Gaelic, or British Descent or a mixture of those, you will find that you have about 2,000 cousins from those different relations who are going to have a gene sequence very similar to your own. That means we aren’t crawling that far out of the gene pool. In most eastern societies (Russia, Scandinavia, Europe, United Kingdom{Especially the United Kingdom}, Euro-Asia, Asia, Arab and Other regions of the other side of the world) where they have lived, without a lot of migration for thousands of years with very little mixing with other regional gene pools, it is even more likely that they have common ancestry, without going back 100 years, significantly reducing variations in their gene pools. So to use “freely” in terms of reproducing is an oxy-moron. Really we aren’t. unless we start mandating that we must all breed with someone from a region or a country that our ancestry has never crossed paths with we will not be really spreading the gene pool much farther than the nearest town we can drive too. Most people stay where they were raised, mate (or marry) with people from their general hometown area, and do not stray to far from their gene pool. We are no longer Nomadic societies.

      • chip_sahoi

        Even though the term should be pronounced as “Neandertal”, it doesn’t mean that we must change the spelling. Germanic languages pronounce “th” as t. i.e, Theorie (pronounced as tay-oh-ree), Thermometer (termometer) etc, etc. Spelled as “neanderTHal”, the word is still supposed to be pronounced as “neanderTal”. I have noticed though that the spelling that helps english speakers (the one you use) is becoming more common: still though… You seem to be suggesting that if somebody uses the correct and original spelling, they must be pronouncing the “th” in the typical anglophone manner, which would not be the case. Of course, Cro-Mangon is another pertinent term that often suffers in pronunciation.

  • Graham Houghton Troillet

    I’ve just read an article about fish in a Swiss lake which are interbreeding and thus the diversity of species is declining rapidly. This is apparently due to environmental pressure caused by chemical contamination of the water due to runoff from farmland of agricultural chemicals and is a phenomenon that has been recorded before in other species. Could the disappearance of Neanderthals be due to a similar mechanism, namely the increased environmental pressure at the end of the last ice age as Hom sap sap moved into Neanderthal territory?

  • Ve Mee

    If the Neanderthals also have a recessive gene, wouldn’t this mean that they could only reproduce themselves. So without interbreeding, with a species that have the complete set of DNA gens they would become extinct all by themselves. No volcano eruption needed.

  • JD

    The husbands should be flattered since there is evidence indicating now that Neanderthals were culturally more sophisticated than previously thought – and I’m leaning towards the idea that they were actually more advanced than ‘modern’ humans. I think the husbands should probably re-evaluate their choice in wives…it seems a mistake made 30 000 – 40 000 years ago continues to be made to this day.

    • Lee Ann

      Back then, they just didn’t have a TV to sit in front of and grunt.

  • Joe Bingley

    Many people believe that as Neanderthal had a much larger body and muscle content, the need for food was much greater. The reason they could have died out was due to food shortages as competition from other species such as ourselves, who were much quicker and could hunt from further away due to our ability to solve problems by using weapons that were easier to use from a distance. Not to say Neanderthal was stupid, much the opposite, they were very clever, perhaps cleverer than humans but in different aspects. Giving no fuel to the insult of calling someone a Neanderthal because that person is stupid.

  • Miss M

    I have a hobby interest in anthropology, and really appreciated this article and research.

    I have read articles as well on the Neanderthal Theory of Autism and Asperger’s. Actually, I am 39 years old with Aspergers and have a child with Asperger’s. I am a 5’3″ woman with very broad shoulders/hips, not fat, but naturally muscular, require a cold environment, physical/manual work and feel most at ease in natural or wilderness environments. My ethnic background is Scottish and German, and both my son and I are fair-skinned with freckles and can only tolerate a meat and vegetable diet, with very little grains. We also, obviously having Asperger’s, do not process non-verbal communication and are therefore not very social.

    I actually went looking for some correlation between Aspergers and Neanderthals and stumbled across the Neanderthal Theory of Autism/Aspergers and then 23andme research and lab.

    I wonder if there is any research or data indicating if people with Autism and Aspergers have more neanderthal dna than most.

    I would love to find out how much I have.

  • tom

    Ive got red hair so do I have a higher percentage ?

    hmmmmm then again but sure if any more jokes would be appreciated !

  • Vicky

    Hi this is fascinating, I’ve just come here after watching the BBC Autopsy programme on Neanderthals.
    What I would like to know is if the average human has 2.5 % Neanderthal genes, what about the outliers who have much more? How much more have you found in these ‘outliers’ and do they have any similar traits for example build, colouring, personality ? I have been searching to find out and can find no mention!

  • LR

    So why did we assume the remains were that of a “Denisovan” if only a finger was found? If the genome matches the present-day “Melanesians” than it could be a modern human. I’m also curious, does anyone know what kind of dating techniques we use on these remains?

  • RS

    It is obvious that the neanderthal genes are what make the difference in appearence between white people and black people. I doubt it would be otherwise possible for black people migrating out of Africa to evolve blond hair and blue eyes within just 30,000 years. (1000 generations)

  • brett husserl

    When I was as young as 10 years old I could look at people on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ and see an apparent neandrethal ocassionally…..1 was our fullback on the highschool football team…..and they even called him ” the neandrethal”…..teasing him a bit…..traits such as being impulsive are more common in these types….plus he loved hunting….case closed!

  • Ranger Dan

    No test necessary, just check the back of their knuckles for scabs.

  • http://NONE John Terry

    They call this man or race of men Neanderthall and I see people walking around today with his facial features.

    I wonder if any of these men are still to be seen in Neanderthall in Europe after all this is where this race of men and their skulls were found.

  • jim adams

    I don’t know what human geneticists mean when they talk of hybrid vigor. In the rest of the world .. animal and plant breeders — hybrid vigor is the result of crossing two purebreds. The offspring have hybrid vigor — better survivability, greater and/or faster growth, etc. When raising animals and/or plants, we sell the hybrids and keep the purebreds. If we keep the hybrids and cross hybrids with hybrids, or hybrids with purebreds … the resulting crosses — over time — have diminished vigor.

    I don’t think that humans are any different in that respect. Sexually tho? We are probably the most sexual species in the world, always horny, and i suspect that the number of purebred varieties of humans are small to non-existent — in other words, i think we probably are all mutts, mongrels, mixed breeds.

    Changing subjects right along: back in the early 60s when i was studying Anthropology, one of my professors was from Czechoslovakia. She said that Neanderthals were not extinct, and if we wanted to see modern examples of the phenotype, we should walk the streets of Czech villages.

    And lastly, on brain size. One site lists average modern human brains as being 1345 cc and Neanderthal average brain size as being around 1450 cc. Also, modern humans brains were smaller at the small end and larger at the large end, tho smaller than Neanderthals on average. Other sites say that overall, brain size probably has something to do with intelligence .. but that Einsteins brain was a little smaller than average for modern humans. Go figure.

    • Robert

      Mr. Adams
      When my wife and I raised large numbers of cats, persians and himalayians, My wife could correctly tell the colors and sex of the possible color variants when mixing two different colored parents. as she explained it to me Line Breeding, Father to daughter, son to mother ,brother to sister, resulted in more extreme cats,
      Flatter faces, higher noses , better coloring. But only good for about 4 generations , Then she would bring in
      a different lined stud or female to build the next 4 generations,she called this Outcross breeding. These cats
      had much better health than line bred cats, were more fit and energetic, and loved to play. I hope this answers your hybrid-hardiness question.

      • Lee Ann

        When I was young, I had a miniature poodle that was a linebred poodle, due to his Grandfather’s grand championship. He was the most neurotic, difficult to train, ditzy dog in the world. I certainly can’t blame all of that on his breeding, we got him when he was a year old also.

        I have two dogs now, one is a shih tzu/bichon hybrid, and the other is a golden retriever/poodle hybrid. I got them cheap, which is good because I wouldn’t have paid much for a hybrid, ‘d have rather gotten a few rescue dogs , which I have done before. They are smart, really smart. The shih tzu/bichon was supposed to be 12 lbs, he’s 24 lbs and not fat. The golden doodle is now 9 months old and is 26″ tall like her poodle father. She’s about 70 pounds. She has instincts of a bird dog, will retrieve anything, whether its hidden or not, will bring it over, and drop it in front of me and sit down. And I never taught her any of this .

  • Ruth Black

    If all we find of the Denisovans are fragments, perhaps they were just a menu item?

  • Charles Lessig

    There are some people living now who are very hairy. Check google for
    hairy people. Some of them also have quite broad noses and their
    non hairy relatives do not. Have any of these hairy people had their
    DNA tested for neanderthal genes? Just a thought.

  • Marc Boone

    It’s fascinating, but all this reflecting on our personal traits is also pretty entertaining. I wonder if the original Homo sapiens was a hybrid, like the red wolf, or two species even more distant. With all the different primate species existing at the same time, this might happened repeatedly. I’ve haven’t heard of this as a major driver of evolution but I’ll bet someone has suggested it.

    • Herne Webber

      Indeed, interspecies mating has generated and continues to create new species. Examples of this are innumerable in the Plant Kingdom, but exist among animals too. Some have put forth the idea that hybrids are always inherently less fertile. This is simply not true, as a rule. Some hybrids *are* infertile, or have severely inhibited fertility based on various mechanisms, including mismatched lock and key sperm and egg chemistry, or different chromosome numbers in the parental stocks leading to bad lineups when the hybrid goes to make gametes. That said, if there is little to no difference in chromosome number and arrangement, and a match in sperm and egg chemistry, two species that have been separate for millenia can and do come together successfully, and their progeny can also reproduce. Usually there *are* some initial minor problems between fellow hybrids, but given that the hybrids would normally back-cross to one or the other parental type, they represent the path of gene flow between two or more species. Eventually, over time a new species can come to stand alone between the two or more which genes it has, or else, as in the case of the polar bear, a new species stands alone, replacing both parental types, but which genomes are entirely represented in the new species. In the case of humanity, it looks as though most of our inter-group hybridisations happened in Africa, creating a sort of “hybrid swarm” of traits, favouring one tribe over another in some skill, while favouring the other over the one in another skill, until all groups had shared genes to the point that the most valuable (from our perspective) genes finally came together in at least one group. Actually, it’s more likely those came together in a small number of groups, who continued through time to have occasional mate exchanges, leading to several genus Homo lineages evolving parallel to one-another. When the later lineages met, they also mated, with gene flow going both ways, bringing them closer together the longer they lived near one-another, until eventually they simply appear from a genetic perspective to be two tribes within one larger group. Genetics, Linguistics, and Physical Anthropology might all give slightly different answers to the same questions, thus the grey areas still need interpretation, and new data.

  • Tummytime

    so, if each one of us has s0me % NeanD DNA, theoretically, it’s possible to collect this % DNA, combine it and make a 100% NeanD individual, a clone of some sort, right?

    • Dan

      I think that would be impossible.

    • Herne Webber

      Tummytime,
      I had given that a thought too, but then I realised something. Given both natural and sexual selection, it is much more likely that most people with a tiny percentage of Neanderthal have basically the *same* set of genes. Why? Because those genes gave either a survival or sexual attractiveness advantage, while the rest of the Neanderthal genome was either already identical to ours by descent, or else if different, was too different to fit well with how people were evolving in the larger (modern human) group. We could not tell if an identical gene came from early modern humans versus Neanderthals, if it was identical by descent, because our gene for something and their gene were already the same gene, say, for type O negative blood. That is the most common blood gene across all humanity. There are genes we have in common with all great apes, even all mammals, where, if you just look at the gene in isolation, you would find it impossible to tell which line it came from. Now, if we understood how much *shared* genetics we already had, we might find out that Europeans and/or South Asians have something like 70% of a whole Neanderthal. But the only way to recreate a full-blooded Neanderthal would be to reconstitute their entire genome in a lab, and then substitute it for a modern human one in an otherwise human fertilised egg. There would still be the issue of the mitrochondria being genetically different, but hopefully it would be close enough not to matter.

  • Bud Short

    The picture of that guy up in the article? I recognize him, he used to work for me as a CAD draftsman. Did a good job too…

  • Phil

    Did you know that Ozzy Osbourne was tested to see if he was part Neanderthal?
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ozzy-osbourne-genome

    • caith culbertson

      Excuse me, but don’t all of us have neanderthal dna, except Africans??

  • bigbadwolfy

    I work with a few. God Bless their thick little skulls.

    • http://tinyurl.com/blogger-raven Raven

      bigbadwolfy: “God Bless their thick little skulls.”

      Thick BIG skulls. In my case, size 8. Finding a non-stretchy hat that fits is a headache. (Most are… too… tight….)

  • Stewart Fakelastname

    Does 23&me publish their percentiles of Neanderthal genes for different ethnic groups? My results told me what percentile I was in among Northern Europeans, but how does that compare with Southern Europeans or Non-specific Europeans, etc.?

  • tarura

    There is plenty of theories of the origin of the modern human, most are said to be descendants of the apes, but I can assure you that not necessarily all of us.

  • http://GoodReportMinistries.com Van

    When I was in 6th grade our “science” textbooks depicted Neanderthals as hairy, stooped, grunting, slobbering, stinky, knuckle-dragging, cootie-picking primates. Now it turns out that, in fact, they are us! They were NOT covered with ape hair, they had speech capacity, their brains were alittle bigger than ours, they made impressive jewelry, they mourned and buried their dead, they were great artists (wall-paintings), they were cunning hunters and gatherers and, being fully human, they interbred and integrated with their so-called “modern” neighbors. This new genome revelation is very embarrassing to those scientists who have insisted that modern human beings evolved from lower ape-like ancestors. Get ready for the end of biological evolution as further genome studies debunk this evolutionary junk science.

    • Kelly

      It doesn’t disprove evolution at all. Both homo sapiens and Neanderthals evolved from more ape like hominids. Neanderthals and homo sapiens diverged more recently and that’s why we were still able to mate according to the hybrid theory. More recently there was a finding that humans didn’t interbreed with Neanderthal after all as their computer modeling showed the Neanderthal genes in modern humans were what they would expect to find if those genes were a remnant of a common ancestor. I’m betting on the hybrid theory myself though.

  • Vucja innominate

    I have seen people who looked so much different from the rest of us as to appear to be a different species; 2 Caucasian, related, 1 supposedly Chinese but looking so different from the typical Chinese. It was hard not to stare. The Caucasians had lighter hair, shortened faces, short noses, and very blocky-looking features with very stout bodies. The Chinese individual was enormous and powerful-appearing, totally different from what I’ve seen of most Chinese people, well-proportioned bodily, with coarse facial features. I wondered if he represented an earlier population which previously inhabited China and was displaced bythe more typical individual we see today.

    The afore- commented folks who feel very close to nature and don’t fit into the general culture well, were you associating these traits with being Neanderthal (Neander Valley in German)? Certainly some Cro-Magnon peoples would have some of these traits as well. Also, research into blood types shows they may be more closely linked with personality, personal traits/preferences than previously thought. I am 0+ , in the top few % of the population for intelligence, and very much a hunter-gather type, with the emphasis on the latter. I have also been proficient in hypnosis, alternative healings, and have had out-of-body experiences which somewhat alarmed me and the person concerned. I am also quite intuitive and react very quickly to potentially dangerous threats, while others are standing there. Several people have told me I’m “strange, funny, etc.” My spiritual experiences fall somewhere among Pantheism, Wicca, and Buddhism. I never believed in the Christianity I was taught.

    Although I am fascinated at the thought of distance Neanderthal ancestors, I am (fast forward thousands of years) also intrigued by the knowledge that most of us are descendants of survivors of the widely-disseminated Black Plague (Bubonic plague), and wonder why – and just wonder.

    FYI – studies have shown that red-haired people require about 20% more pain medication than others.
    Also – I’ve read somewhere that Genghis Khan had red hair and green eyes.

    • http://tinyurl.com/blogger-raven Raven

      Vucja: “1 supposedly Chinese but looking so different from the typical Chinese.”

      China has many different ethnicities, of which the majority (Han) is only one.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_China

      > “… also intrigued by the knowledge that most of us are descendants of survivors of the widely-disseminated Black Plague…, and wonder why….”

      Those who didn’t survive didn’t leave as many descendants. Many orphans had harder lives, or joined the Church and died childless celibates.

      > “I’ve read somewhere that Genghis Khan had red hair and green eyes.”

      Yes, due to one of the Great Migrations. Temujin’s tribe descended from the Tü-Chueh, a branch of the redheads who’d come up from around Scythia, gone north along the west coast of Europe, gone east through what’s now Finland (Altaic-speaking), come south down into central Asia where the Kara-Khitan Empire and the later Mongol Empire would arise (both Altaic-speaking), then after interbreeding with the locals would still be pale but now black-haired, not Tü-Chueh but Turks (still Altaic-speaking), and send one branch to conquer a land westward they’d name after themselves — practically back where they’d started!

  • Pastori Balele

    There we go again with science lies. Noah Arch was found in Yemen -Sure – Jesus was blonde – and now with Neanderthals. This guy cannot be ancestor of non-African people. This guy must me African. Nose is flat; skin and eyes dark. All is baloney.

  • Willy Istvan

    A few years back, I saw a TV special on the “Human Genome”. It was filmed in NYC and there were hundreds of volunteers who had their DNA evaluated. I found the show truly fascinating. The one thing that had me curious, was the fact that as modern humans left Africa, “genetic mutations” happened in a number of regions, beginning in the Middle East. I wondered about these mutations, and how one individual could cause a mutation like blue eyes to occur in hundreds of future generations, eventually affecting millions of people. How could Europeans, Asians and Africans look so different from each other when we were all Africans? I am short and stocky and I have blonde hair (gray now, haha) and green eyes. My ancestry is Hungarian/Austrian. I don’t mean to sound racist here, and I would hope that no one would ever accuse me of being such, but I look nothing like Asians or Africans, even though I know my DNA began in Africa.

    A couple of years ago, I started reading about attempts by scientists to map the Neanderthal genome. Then I began to read that some of these scientists had actually found Neanderthal DNA in the human genome. For me, this is the obvious answer to my curiosity regarding the DNA mutations that had occurred when some humans left Africa.

    As a teenager back in the 1970′s, I wondered how it was possible that in the year 1945, some humans were inventing atom bombs while others were still throwing spears and rocks. How was it possible that over the course of human history, some humans were building pyramids or skyscrapers, while other were building mud huts. It just made no sense to me whatsoever. I grew up in a predominantly Asian area in Southern California. I felt so inferior to the Asian students that I attended school with. On average, the Asian intelligence level was far superior to that of the Caucasians. I know that in today’s society, this is considered racism, but to me, this is pure science. I don’t have a racist bone in my body. After all, science is based on facts, not on emotion, as is racism.

    After reading this article and some of the postings on this blog, I now wonder, “Is it possible that the interbreeding of Neanderthals and modern humans in some way contributed to the intelligence level of certain groups of humans? Could the interbreeding of modern humans and Denisovans have led to the superior intelligence of modern day Asians? Is it possible that this interbreeding led to the different features and colors displayed by different races?”

    I’ve come to the following conclusion: either the answer to the above questions is yes, or the “Ancient Alien” theorists are correct and some modern humans were lucky enough to have interbred with them; that is, the aliens, not the theorists :)

  • Sam

    This article stimulated my intellectual curiosity genes right up to the very last sentence when it stimulated my laughter genes. Nice job of setting me up and knocking me down.

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