The Neanderthals' good legacy

Neanderthals coexisted for 10,000 years with modern man: shared genetics

Neanderthals coexisted for 10,000 years with modern man: shared genetics

Scientists argue that part of modern man's immunity system harks back to a species that disappeared 40,000 years ago.

They disappeared 40,000 years ago and have left us an inheritance of genes that help us resist viruses such as Influenza (which causes the flu), Hepatitis C and HIV (which causes AIDS). That was the gift we inherited from the Neanderthals.

The discovery was published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Cell and is signed by Stanford University's Dmitri Petrov, one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists, and by David Enard, a researcher at Petrov's laboratory.

The findings surprised scientists in the area. Modern man (Homo sapiens sapiens) coexisted with the Neanderthals for 10,000 years, but the nature of the genetics of immunity they passed on to contemporary man, after the relations between the two species, was still unknown. "We realized that they gave us protection against the viruses our ancestors encountered when they left Africa," David Enard told ISTOÉ.

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