New study finds Neanderthal DNA in Africans
A new study published on Thursday in the journal Cell shows that people of African origin carry more Neanderthals DNA than previously estimated by scientists. Scientists have previously detected close to a 2% of DNA from Neanderthals in modern human genomes from Europe, Asia and America. The research led by scientists from the Princeton University pointed that the scientists estimated that the modern humans from Africa and Neanderthals never came across each other as present day Africans couldn’t be tracked with any trace of Neanderthal DNA before.
Previous studies have shown that Neanderthals and Modern Human ancestors had crossbred in different parts of Europe, America and Asia across a lengthy span which is the reason they were found with traces of Neanderthal DNA. However, the unprecedented research for the first has found traces of Neanderthal DNA in Africans. The recent findings challenge the pre-existing theory which suggest that ancestors of modern humans evolved and spread out from the African continent into other parts of the globe somewhere around 60,000 to 80,000 years ago.
Joshua Akey who works as an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University suggested in the study that the a wave of modern humans left Africa for Europe or Asia some 200,000 years ago. The research team said that these modern humans widely interbred with the Neanderthals there before returning back to Africa where they mingled with other modern human groups. Akey, who is the senior author of the research, said that “These back-to-Africa migrations, largely from ancestors of contemporary Europeans, carried Neanderthal sequences with them, and through admixture, contributed to them Neanderthal ancestry we detect in African individuals today.”
The researchers also found more similarity in the share of Neanderthal DNA in the genome of modern human groups living in different parts of the world. Akey also added that previous “Neanderthal ancestry estimates in East Asians and Europeans were biased due to unaccounted-for back-migrations from European ancestors into Africa.”