DNA inherited from Neanderthals may influence the shape of human noses, study finds | Tech News

The shape of modern human noses may have been determined in part by genetic material passed down by Neanderthals, a new study suggests.

Neanderthals were an ancient species that lived in Eurasia until their extinction about 40,000 years ago.

But scientists think they interbred with Homo sapiens — meaning some of their DNA is still present in modern humans.

DNA inherited from Neanderthals may have influenced the shape of modern human faces, researchers believe.

One area of ​​particular interest is the nose, which scientists believe evolved as ancient humans adapted to colder climates after they left Earth Africa.

A new study – led by researchers at University College London (UCL) – Discovery of a specific gene found in humans that causes noses to be taller (top to bottom) may have arisen from this adaptation.

Co-corresponding author Dr Kaustubh Adhikari, from UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment and The Open University, said: “In the past 15 years since sequencing the Neanderthal genome, we have been able to learn about our own The ancestors of the Neanderthals are apparently related to the Neanderthals, leaving us with a small part of their DNA.

“Here we find that some DNA inherited from Neanderthals influences the shape of our faces.

“If it can be passed down from generation to generation, it might help our ancestors.”

Who were Neanderthals?

With large noses, bushy eyebrows and relatively stocky bodies, Neanderthals are often depicted as caveman-like creatures.

But they were human just like us — albeit a distinct species known as Neanderthals. Researchers also believe they are far more complex than their popular image.

They were considered skilled toolmakers who used group tactics to hunt large game, including mammoths and bison. Neanderthals are also thought to have practiced art and may have buried their dead.

They existed throughout Europe, Southwest and Central Asia about 400,000 to 40,000 years ago. That means they would have co-existed with Homo sapiens — from whom they split off at least 500,000 years ago.

Although the reasons for their extinction are debated, competition with Homo sapiens who arrived in Europe around the time of the extinction, as well as climate change and disease, may have played a role.

However, scientists believe they interbred with Homo sapiens, meaning their DNA is still present in modern humans.

Professor Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum, said: “Thus, every person today whose ancestors lived outside Africa at the time inherited a small but substantial amount of Neanderthal DNA, about 2% of their genome.”

The study used data from more than 6,000 people in Latin America who were of mixed European, Native American and African ancestry.

UCL member Candela research recruited from BrazilColombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Comparing the participants’ genetic information to photos of their faces led the scientists to identify 33 new genomic regions associated with face shape.

read more:
Remains give us insight into Neanderthal home life
Neanderthal children may have lost their teeth earlier than modern humans

In one region of the genome in particular — called ATF3 — the researchers found that many of the people with Native American ancestry in their study had genetic material inherited from Neanderthals in that gene.

It was also found in another group of people with East Asian ancestry.

The researchers found that this genetic material contributes to increased nasal cavity height.

Lead author Dr Qing Li, from Fudan University, said: “The genes we have identified here may have been inherited from Neanderthals to help our ancestors adapt to colder climates when they left Africa.”

The study, published in the journal Communications Biology, is the second time DNA from ancient human ancestors has been found to be different from that of Homo sapiens, and it affects the shape of our faces, the researchers said.

In a 2021 paper, the same team found that the gene that affects lip shape was inherited from ancient Denisovans.

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