Neanderthal genes associated with poor sleep and obesity

Geneticists have firmly established that about two percent of the DNA of all living people not from Africa was transferred from our Neanderthal relatives. It is hard to imagine why our early ancestors at all decided to mate with them. In the end, the Neanderthals were completely alien species for us. But given the circumstances, perhaps we should not judge them.

Neanderthal genes associated with poor sleep and obesity

Today scientists are trying to figure out how and how much DNA Neanderthals appeared in our bodies and the role it can play in determining how we look and how to feel, as well as in our susceptibility to certain diseases.

One of the first features that are associated with Neanderthals, became red hair. Set Neanderthal genes for blond hair and skin color, was indentifitsirovan geneticists more than a decade ago and is linked to human survival at high latitudes, on poor light, like Europe.

Since Neanderthals lived in Europe for several hundred thousand years, it was found that natural selection gave them light skin and hair color to help prevent diseases such as rickets.

But as so often happens in science, the situation is much more complicated than one might think. Red hair was not inherited from Neanderthals in general. It turns out that they have not even been to the gene!

Red hair was unique to human trait, according to new research conducted by Michael and Janet Kelso Dannemanom from the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Max Planck and published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. It is amazing and ironic that half of Neanderthal genes in our genome plays a role in determining skin and hair color. However, a new study suggests that Neanderthal genes influence these traits are not more than unique human genes, which we have.

What does all this mean? For some time, tens of thousands of years, natural selection has provided the perfect balance between the Neanderthal and human genes for these traits. Now we know that people with fair skin and hair have the best of both fragments of the genomes of these signs.

Among other genes, inherited from Neanderthals, there are those that are associated with how easily people sunbathe and get sunburns.

It is especially interesting finding from this study was the role that Neanderthal genes play in people's sleep patterns defined circadian rhythms of the body. Natural cycles of night and day, which varies greatly depending on the latitude and time of year, a strong influence on our circadian rhythms.

Danneman and Kelso were looking for a link between latitude and incidence of Neanderthal ASB1 form of a gene that plays a role in determining whether the "owl" you or "bird", and is associated with the need to sleep in the daytime, and even with narcolepsy.

It was found that non-African populations living far from the equator, today shows a higher prevalence of ASB1, than the people who live next to it. Circadian rhythms of the human is clinically important because of the well-known 24-hour changes in glucose, insulin and leptin, which controls our appetite. Some of the recently discovered Neanderthal genes were associated with an increase in adults, as well as the bearing, which occurs in children after reaching the age of 10, with the pulse and body fat distribution in the legs.

Other Neanderthal genes that appear to help in determining the mood, for example, when we go out in the sun, or the preferences in meat. Already it is no news that our ancestors mixed with prehistoric people like Neanderthals. Their decision to mate with Neanderthals, whatever the reason, continues to resonate after tens of thousands of years. Neanderthal genes play a very important role today, affecting the way we look, feel and behave, including defining our tendency to diseases associated with the Western lifestyle and diet.

Evolutionary history - an amazing thing. One would think: only a few percent of the genes of modern humans inherited from another species, and the echoes of that heritage can be heard to this day. Studying them is crucial to understanding how we deal with this legacy.