Ancient Humans & Neanderthals Had Sex, Here's How It Changed Us Forever

We've known for a while that ancient humans got busy with Neanderthals, but how exactly did that Neanderthal DNA affect modern humans?

Around 100,000 years ago, ancient humans moved out of Africa and into the Middle East and Europe. But, another group of hominids called the Neanderthal were already there. They wanted to be where the people were, and now we are forever 'part of their world.' So to speak. We sexed them up.

Today, we live with a mix of the DNA of every one of our ancestors. Luckily for us, both the human and Neanderthal genome have been sequenced. This means, we can look at the full breadth of our DNAs and find places where things match up.

For many of us, that includes a few hundred Neanderthal bits as well. For example, I have 301 Neanderthal markers in my genome. They say, that's more than most! So, many of us have a little genetics from the valley of Neander, which plants a question in a lot of people's minds. Did putting some Neander-cream in our Homo sapien-coffee make things better or worse?

In 2016, the first study to try and discover what genetics the Neanderthal added found some shocking results. I want to say first, a lot of this research sort of feels... icky. "Ew, we mixed the races and now we're somehow weaker!" But, that's not the case.


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