Fossils of Neanderthal DNA clump in human genome

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Associated Press

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 29 at 1:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Next time you call someone a Neanderthal, better look in a mirror. Two new studies find that many genes that help determine most people's skin and hair are more Neanderthal than not.

Scientists looked in the DNA of non-Africans and isolated parts with genes that can be traced to Neanderthals. Barely more than 1 percent of the modern genomes comes from 50,000 years ago, when modern humans leaving Africa mated with Neanderthals, who were on their way to extinction.

Joshua Akey (AY'-kee), a University of Washington genome scientist, said seeing where Neanderthal DNA appears our genome — and where it is missing — helps scientists understand what makes people uniquely human.

The studies were released Wednesday in the journals Nature and Science.

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