Israeli scientists made a major breakthrough as they discovered genetic switches that caused differences between extinct neanderthals and modern humans. Israeli scientist published the research in an online edition of the prestigious journal and said “Science may explain what separates modern man, or Homo sapiens, from Neanderthals”. Human and their extinct Neanderthal cousins different in mind and body were found to be 99.84 similar genetically.

Four years after scientists discovered that the two species’s genomes differ by a fraction of a percent, geneticists said on Thursday they have an explanation: the cellular equivalent of “on/off” switches that determine whether DNA is activated or not. Many genetic switches are turned on in humans that are switched off in neanderthals and vice-versa, study revealed. “People are fundamentally interested in what makes us human, in what makes us different from Neanderthals,”said Sarah Tishkoff, an expert in human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new study. Discovering the differences in gene activation is “an amazing technical feat,” she said.

Study also revealed why humans have neurological and psychiatric disorders including autism and schizophrenia but our ancestor Neanderthals did not. In an interview, Carmel said “any given gene might “do many things in the brain.When dozens of brain-related genes became more active in today’s humans, that somehow produces the harmful side effect of neurological illness”. Scientists mapped neanderthal’s and human’s epigenome and found that more than 99 percent of the maps matched.

HOXD, a cluster of five genes which influences size and shape of limbs was found absent in the ancient species. Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London said in an interview that the HOXD gene finding “may help to explain how these ancient humans were able to build stronger bodies, better adapted to the physical rigors of Stone Age life.

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9 Responses

  1. LeoK711

    It’s total BS to say ‘Neanderthals didn’t have x, y or z’ – there is no way this is as yet known. Yet it’s stated as a given. Baloney.

    And I hope the paper is better written than this article, which tends to make the finding sound like junk science. Oh, btw, what was the ‘prestigious journal’??


  2. fwupow

    OK, so now lets make one! Let’s find out what a neanderthal really looked like..

  3. vikingz2000

    Why do artists always depict Neanderthals wearing some sort of loin clothing? Did they in fact just wear loin clothing type garments?

  4. JohnJay60

    How do we know they did not suffer schizophrenia or autism? The human equivalent of those genes may be missing but perhaps some other combination that does not afflict us also afflicted them? An idle question.

    • Ronnie Raygun

      It does sound completely speculative, but perhaps for it to be one of those conditions, specific genetics have to be in place. So sure they had their own version, or problems, but it wouldn’t exactly be schizophrenia, because that is caused by a part of the brain that never developed.

      • ButlerianHeretic

        These conditions have well-established genetic roots. This is significant because one theory about what separates behaviorally modern humans not only from neandertals but also from those anatomically modern humans that predate behavioral modernity is neurological conditions like schizophrenia and autism. Although these conditions can cause difficulties, individuals exhibiting behaviors associated with such conditions include many of the most creative, inventive, and revolutionary individuals both historically and in the modern world. Before this change there was little technological evolution despite earlier anatomically modern humans having brains of the same size as modern humans, and neandertals having even larger brains. After this period there was an explosion of technological change which then lead to the social changes that started our path toward civilization. This research appears to support this theory.

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