If your face is longer than the average person, you may carry Neanderthal DNA.

 If your face is longer than the average person, you may carry Neanderthal DNA.

Netease Scientists Camilla

Wechat | Public ID: WYKXR163

According to the American Life Sciences website, the structure of your brain may reveal whether you have a Neanderthal gene. Recent studies have found that modern humans have longer brain and skull structures than ordinary humans if they carry some of the gene fragments of the modern extinct Neanderthals.

Modern humans have unique, nearly spherical skulls and brains, while Neanderthals have slender skulls and brains more like most primates.

Previous studies have shown that these different skull shapes may map differences between the brain regions of modern humans and Neanderthals, and reveal how these brain regions are connected. Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and co-author of the study, said: We know that human brain tissues do not form fossils, so the study of the biological principles of the human brain remains a mystery.

To solve this mystery, scientists first performed X-ray computed tomography scans of seven Neanderthal skulls and 19 modern human skulls. They made imprints inside the skull and measured the roundness of the skull.

Next, researchers analyzed genetic data from nearly 4,500 modern humans and scanned their brains with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Simon Fisher, a neurogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute of Linguistic Psychology and senior author of the study, said:We suspect that if we can identify specific Neanderthal DNA fragments in the body of contemporary humans, we can test whether these DNA fragments can promote the brain to form an aspheric structure so that we can look for possible effects of research. This characteristic gene.

Previous studies have found that modern humans and Neanderthals have undergone multiple hybridizations, introducing Neanderthal DNA into the modern human genome. In this latest study, scientists have found that Neanderthal DNA fragments on chromosomes 1 and 18 of modern humans are closely related to the less rounded skull of humans.

Carried with a rare Neanderthal fragment will have a very subtle effect. Neanderthal genetic variation has a very small effect. You cant directly identify a persons head shape, Fisher said.

Neanderthal DNA fragments contain two previously studied genes that are directly related to brain development. One gene is UBR4, which is related to the formation of neurons; the other is PHLPP1, which is related to the formation of insulating fat around nerve cells.

Researchers have found that Neanderthal DNA has a strong influence on brain structures known as putamen and cerebellum, which are essential for preparing, learning and coordinating movement. The putamen is formed outside the basal ganglia of the brain and is associated with memory, attention, planning and skill learning, as well as potential language skills.

Scientists stress that if a persons Neanderthal DNA in his body exceeds the average level of ordinary people, it must mean that his head will show a slender structure. If two people have the same amount of Neanderthal DNA, for example, Neanderthal DNA accounts for 1% of their genome, then they may still carry completely different DNA fragments, which, after all, cant play a decisive role, Fisher said.

At the same time, the researchers also noted that these skull differences may not reflect any differences at birth: modern humans and Neanderthals are born with similar skull and skull shapes, and differences in brain development after birth may lead to significant differences in skull shapes between two human lineages in adulthood.

Future research will explore more Neanderthal DNA associated with the modern human brain and develop brain tissue with Neanderthal DNA in the laboratory to determine the specific effects of these ancient gene variants.

Source: Liable Editor of Netease Scientist: Qiao Junyi_NBJ11279