It is known that CRO-magnons and Neanderthals interbred with each other. Now it turned out that the Neanderthal genes in our genome are responsible for the immune defense mechanisms against many viruses.
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The Neanderthals as a species went extinct about 40,000 years ago. There are different versions why it could happen: the most popular and ancient of them says that Neanderthals could destroy the CRO-magnons. However, now scientists have conclusive evidence that two species of primitive people not only fought, but also mingled with each other. The genomes of many modern Europeans and Asians have about two percent of the DNA of Neanderthals.
The researchers also noticed that some genes of Neanderthals across modern humans more than others. This led the scientists to think that their distribution may not be random, and gave some evolutionary advantage. A team of researchers from Stanford University have proved this idea. They found that the genes of Neanderthals, CRO-magnons gave protection from the viruses they encountered in the transition from Africa. The article with the conclusions published in the scientific journal Cell.
The fact is that until the first contact with our ancestors the Neanderthals lived outside of Africa hundreds of thousands of years. During this time the body of members of this species have developed immune defenses against viruses, widespread in Europe and Asia. From an evolutionary point of view, CRO-magnon was “cheaper” to borrow a ready adaptive mechanism Neanderthals than to wait until you fixed their own mutations.
Graphical representation of gene transfer from Neanderthals to modern humans / ©Cell
Basically, Neanderthals developed immune protection against RNA-containing viruses that triggers in the cell the synthesis of viral DNA. Are viruses responsible for many human diseases, the most famous representative of them is the human immunodeficiency virus.
To test their hypothesis, the scientists have compiled a list of more than 4500 genes in modern humans that are associated with virus protection. Then the researchers cross-referenced the list with the database of the DNA of Neanderthal and identified 152 total fragment. It turned out, common genes give modern man an immune response to HIV, influenza virus A (H1N1) and hepatitis C. it Should be noted that the identified genes are only present in modern Europeans. Scientists explain this by the fact that, most likely, crossbreeding between Neanderthals and CRO-magnons happened more than once.
Recently, British researchers have concluded that Neanderthals had a highly developed medicine, which helped them to survive severe injuries. Scientists found out by analyzing the remains of 35 individuals.