A study published in Science Advances has revealed the presence of Neanderthal DNA in modern human populations across Europe and Asia. Neanderthal DNA, derived from ancient interbreeding between humans and Stone Age hominins, makes up a small part of the genetic makeup of most humans. However, East Asian populations show slightly higher amounts of Neanderthal DNA, with an average of 2% in Eurasian genetic material and 4% in East Asia. The study, led by Mathias Currat, provides significant progress in understanding our ancient genetic heritage.

A new study featured in Cell challenges previous assumptions about Neanderthal ancestry in modern Africans and Europeans. Around 60,000 years ago, early humans left Africa and interacted with various hominin groups. Neanderthals inhabited Europe and the Middle East, while Denisovans settled in Asia. Intermingling between these groups left genetic marks that continue to exist in many populations today. Europeans and Asians carry roughly 2% Neanderthal DNA, and Asians also have additional Denisovan DNA, with levels reaching up to 6% in Melanesians. Modern African populations have more traces of Neanderthal DNA than previously believed, accounting for about a third of what has been found in Europeans and Asians. This discovery adds complexity to the story of human migration and genetic exchange, advancing the understanding of human evolution and genetic heritage.