Neanderthal Ancestry refers to a species of human who is now extinct. As with many of the human species, Neanderthals originated from Africa but migrated to Eurasia (Europe and Asia) before others did. In 2006 a group of scientists began the process of sequencing the Neanderthal genome. It is, therefore, possible to test to verify if we have DNA originating from Neanderthal Ancestry.
The Neanderthal species possessed certain characteristics such as receding hairlines/forehead and prominent brow ridges. It is widely believed that Neanderthals had the same speaking ability as humans today. Their presence was largely distributed across Europe during the periods of the Ice Age. To put this into a time frame, we are looking at between. 120,000 and 35,000 years ago The Neanderthals were associated with the Mousterian flint industry of the Middle Palaeolithic. It comes as no surprise that most non-Africans possess some form of Neanderthal DNA.
It is believed that after humans encountered the Neanderthals the two species began interbreeding. This gives reason to question surrounding Neanderthal ancestry, their DNA and whether some of those characteristics are persistent today.
Studies have concluded that the Neanderthal gene has had positive benefits on the human race by contributing to our immunity and the prevention of modern diseases. In addition, immunities are not all we have inherited. Our link to neanderthal ancestry can be seen in physical areas such as skin tone and hair colour.
Additionally, we have inherited more concerning traits such as:
While Neanderthals are extinct, about two per cent of the DNA in non-African people living today are directly related to Neanderthal Ancestry.
A Harvard Medical School/UCLA research team created a map denoting the interbreeding of various human species including Neanderthal and Denisovans. Through known 250 genome and 120 population references, the team were able to identify and map Neanderthal Ancestry and breeding habits.