in General

Genetic Journey: Neanderthal Ancestry

Cicero Moraes’ Homo neanderthalensis

At the start of the month I sent off my DNA sample to 23andMe and today I received the results of the genotyping that was conducted. There is so much data to go over and findings to reflect on, and I will share a lot of it over time, but there’s one finding that I’d like to share first.

I’m 2.8% Neanderthal. As 23andMe explains, “traces of [Neanderthal] DNA — between 1 percent and 4 percent — are found in all modern humans outside of Africa.” This is a fascinating bit of knowledge and one of the simpler to express of all the findings the analysis produced: somewhere in my distant ancestral history, humans and neanderthals got together and reproduced.

More information about how the ancestry estimation was produced can be found in the whitepaper “Neanderthal Ancestry Estimator“.

So what, I’m a caveman?

Actually yes, but that has little to do with the percentage of Neanderthal DNA in your genome. Our perception of Neanderthals as big oafs is clouded by our own notion of superiority and pop culture caricatures. How we are different and why modern humans survived and Neanderthals didn’t is still mostly a mystery.

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