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A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have between 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have no Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia.

The discovery spawned a number of hypotheses about the effects these genetic variants may have on the physical characteristics or behavior of modern humans, ranging from skin color to heightened allergies to fat metabolism… generating dozens of colorful headlines including “What your Neanderthal DNA is doing for you” and “Neanderthals are to blame for our allergies” and “Did Europeans Get Fat From Neanderthals?”

Now, the first study that directly compares Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of a significant population of adults of European ancestry with their clinical records confirms that this archaic genetic legacy has a subtle but significant impact on modern human biology.

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“Our main finding is that Neanderthal DNA does influence clinical traits in modern humans: We discovered associations between Neanderthal DNA and a wide range of traits, including immunological, dermatological, neurological, psychiatric and reproductive diseases,” said John Capra, senior author of the paper “The phenotypic legacy of admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals” published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.