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Your Body Fights Sickness Like a Caveman — And That’s a Good Thing

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~~~~MicScience1

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Thousands of years ago, modern humans met Neanderthals in Europe at whatever the equivalent of a singles bar was. They started having a bunch of sex, and now we exist. In the throes of creating the future of humanity, Neanderthals gave us two things: their kickass, pterodactyl-fighting immune systems and allergies.

Those are the discoveries of two papers published Thursday from researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Institut Pasteur and the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.

We’ve already heard that 1% to 6% of modern Eurasian genomes came from two forms of early man, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans. But the new studies explore how our inherited traits affected genes, specifically Toll-like receptors, which detect and respond to things like bacteria, fungi and parasites.

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Ancient Humans Had Sex With Mystery Species, New DNA Study Shows

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The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work.

The first Neanderthal and the Denisovan genome sequences revolutionized the study of ancient human history, not least because they showed that these groups interbred with anatomically modern humans, contributing to the genetic diversity of many people alive today.

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